Luxury Design Strategy: (VCF) Van Cleef & Arpels

I accompanied students of the Luxury Design & Strategy on a field trip to Van Cleef & Arpel’s office on Lexington Avenue. As the Research Assistant, I documented the student’s experience and noted the rich history of VCF.

Alfred Van Cleef founded the house of Van Cleef & Arpels with his brothers Charles and Julien Arpel in 1906. Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry have been characterized by its fluid lines, natural curves, and a sense of movement.  From Grace Kelly to international patrons, the house of Van Cleef & Arpel’s had always a large network of loyal customers and muses. The French house is known for it’s iconic convertible jewelry. A piece of jewelry can act as both a necklace and two bracelets when taken apart. Was Van Cleef & Arpel’s convertible the first examples of wearable technology in the 1940s? Convertible jewelry pieces such as the "sautoir, was a long necklace sometimes worn with a pendant, bold bracelets, pendant ear clips and convertible jewelry to be worn in different ways, were very popular during this time.”

The trip provided first hand experience to the deep roots of the house and insight into one of the most luxury jewelry houses today. The students were shown several iconic pieces for inspiration to create their own innovative solutions for VCF. They presented sketches of their designs to the leading employers at VCF for critical design feedback. The following week, students were given a special tutorial on sketching and painting for jewelry concept design. The VCF designer visited Parsons to provide feedback and shared techniques in jewelry design. I mentored some students during the brainstorming process.