Van Cleef & Arpels Unveils Extraordinary Collection Carved from One Massive Diamond
The spectacular 25-piece assortment was created using the Lesotho Legend, a 910-carat rough diamond from the Letseng mine in southern Africa
Van Cleef & Arpels rarely works with rough stones. “We traditionally start with cut and faceted stones that are already suitable for use in jewelry,” noted Nicolas Bos, President and CEO of the storied brand. But they recently broke with tradition, creating Legend of Diamonds, a spectacular collection of 25 pieces, from the acquisition of a single rough diamond. And it’s deliciously good story.
Four years ago, the house was presented with the proverbial offer they couldn’t refuse: the Lesotho Legend, a 910-carat rough diamond from the Letseng mine in southern Africa, which has historically produced some of the world’s largest diamonds of exceptional quality. The Legend was no different—it turned out to be the fifth largest diamond in size and quality ever mined. To sweeten the pot, it was brought to them by Taché, a diamond dealer and long-time partner. How could they resist?
The acquisition of the stone put the company in the unique position to choose a combination of cut stones that worked best for them both in shape and size. One of the world’s leading diamond cutters spent a year, aided by 3D software, to map these combinations in a way that would limit loss of material while creating the best stones possible. In the end, the Lesotho Legend yielded 67 individual diamonds totaling 441.75 carats, nearly half of the original rough stone’s weight, in the Maison’s preference for “fancy” cuts. Jaw-droppers include a potentially blinding 79.35-carat specimen and others weighing 51.14, 31.24, and 25.06 carats. “This is the first time in decades that we have been involved in a project from its starting point—the extraction of the stone—to the creation of a High Jewelry collection,” Bos explained.
Stand outs include the Chevron Mystérieux transformable necklace and earrings, with detachable pendants. These diamond, emerald and sapphire stunners were inspired by collar-style necklaces of the 1950s, and the necklace offers what they describe a “six options for metamorphosis” by detaching the dramatic pear-shaped drops. The Collerette Mystérieuse necklace offers similar options. Crafted from rows of diamonds and Traditional Mystery Set rubies, it is edged with a line of pink sapphires and square-cut diamonds that evoke delicate lace. The center stone is an over 10-carat diamond, which may seem demure in comparison to the 51-carat detachable emerald cut drop, which can be used to adorn a ring in the collection.
While the diamonds are clearly the star of this sartorial show, their brilliance is further accented by the Mystery Set, a patented technique where stones are fitted into metal in a way that the metal becomes invisible (as opposed to traditional setting techniques where metal is pressed over a stone to hold it in place). This is the first time the almost 90 year-old invention has been used on an entire collection, creating bands of rich colors with gravity-defying, seemingly effortless movement. While the brand is mum on future doings, we predict that this incredible success will undoubtedly inspire Van Cleef, and perhaps other brands, to seriously consider roughing it in the future.