Established in 1906 at 22 Place Vendôme, the story of Van Cleef & Arpels began when Alfred Van Cleef married Estelle Arpels in 1895. For more than a century, their two names have fashioned some of the most beautiful moments in the history of Fine Jewellery.

The company lost no time in demonstrating its expertise in the creation of fabulous jewels. Driven by a passion for beauty and excellence, Van Cleef & Arpels, which joined the Richemont Group in 2000, perpetuates a uniquely recognisable style, rich in creativity, enchantment, culture and poetry. Inspired by Nature, Couture and Fantasy, its jewellery and watches throw open the doors to a world of everlasting beauty and harmony.

Key dates

Wedding of Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef in Paris.

Alfred Van Cleef and his brother-in-law Charles register the name “Van Cleef & Arpels”. The boutique opens its doors at 22 Place Vendôme, in Paris.

The first chatelaines are created.


Van Cleef & Arpels creates its first wristwatch (white and yellow gold – leather strap).

Renée Puissant, daughter of the Maison’s founding couple, becomes artistic director of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Inspired by Florence Jay Gould, Charles Arpels creates the Minaudière™, a sophisticated vanity case whose name was registered in 1934. The Mystery Setting™ technique is developed.

The Cadenas wristwatch is created.

The transformable Passe-Partout jewel is created.

Van Cleef & Arpels opens an office at the Rockefeller Center in New York, followed in 1942 by a boutique at 744 Fifth Avenue.

Pierre Arpels creates a round watch with central attachments. In 2012, Van Cleef & Arpels presents the Pierre Arpels, a new interpretation of this iconic timepiece.

The Zip necklace is created, giving form to an idea first suggested by the Duchess of Windsor in the late 1930s.

H.S.H. Prince Rainier III presents his future wife Grace Kelly with a set in pearls and diamonds by Van Cleef & Arpels. The same year, Van Cleef & Arpels becomes “Official Supplier to the Principality of Monaco”.

Jewels - George Balanchine’s ballet inspired by the jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels, to music by Fauré, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky – receives its first performance in New York. Jewels are created for the coronation of Empress of Iran Farah Pahlavi and for the imperial family.

The first Alhambra® long necklace is created.


The Boutique des Heures opens in Paris’ Place Vendôme.

The Musée Galliera, Musée de la mode et du Costume, in Paris, organizes an extensive exhibition devoted to Van Cleef & Arpels.


Van Cleef & Arpels is acquired by the Richemont Group.

Van Cleef & Arpels celebrates its centenary – the Poetic Complications™ are born.

Two Poetic Complications™ timepieces are created: Lady Arpels Féérie and Midnight in Paris.

The watch collection Charms is launched.

“The Spirit of Beauty” exhibition is held at Tokyo’s Mori Arts Center. The book The Poetry of Time – devoted to Van Cleef & Arpels’ watchmaking – is published.


The Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux timepiece depicts two lovers meeting on Paris’ Pont des Arts. It is awarded the Ladies Watch Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.

The Cadran Extraordinaire™ Lady Arpels Paysage Polaire motif phoque timepiece is awarded the Jewellery and Artistic Crafts Watch Prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. The “Set in Style” exhibition is held at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York. After Paris and New York, Van Cleef & Arpels opens its third Maison at Prince’s Building, Hong Kong.

The Poetic Wish Poetic Complications™ timepieces are created. The “Timeless Beauty” exhibition is held at Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA Shanghai) from May 20 to July 15, 2012. The “Van Cleef & Arpels, l’Art de la Haute Joaillerie” exhibition is held at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs from September 20, 2012 to February 10, 2013.