The Arpels brothers’ taste for travels

Driven by a deep passion for precious stones and a curiosity for the world's diverse cultures, the Arpels brothers were known for their extensive travels from the 1950s to the 1970s, rich in their fabulous encounters and treasures. Claude, the eldest of the three, roamed the world from Egypt to Lebanon, from China to Thailand, from Cambodia to Japan, and often visited India, all in the company of his brothers. There they discovered countless stones, pearls and jewelry pieces from the personal collections of Maharajahs. This thorough familiarity with the colors and gemstones typical of India influenced the style and creative spirit of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Another period profoundly affected the Maison’s artistic vision. In 1966, Van Cleef & Arpels was chosen to create the jewels to be worn by Farah Pahlavin, Empress of Iran, at her coronation the following year. Pierre Arpels made 24 trips to Tehran, where he diligently selected the stones and established a temporary workshop in the Treasure Chamber. This order, which included the Empress’s crown, set with 1,646 gemstones (diamonds, emeralds, rubies, spinels and pearls), as well as jewelry ensembles for the Shah’s daughter and sisters, led the Maison to discover Persian decorative motifs, thereby broadening and diversifying its sources of inspiration.

    Pierre Arpels working on the creation of Impress of Iran's crown, 1967. Van Cleef & Arpels Archives.

    Pierre Arpels working on the creation of Impress of Iran's crown, 1967