The company that came to be Van Cleef and Arpels began when two people, Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef, came together to be married in 1895.
In 1896, Estelle’s father Salomon Arpels helped Alfred start a jewellery business.
After the death of Salomon Arpel, Alfred and his two brother-in-laws Charles and Julien, bought a shop space at 22 Place Vendome, where Van & Arpels became a boutique store.
Soon, Van Cleef & Arpels opened boutiques in many different holiday resorts, in places such as: Monte-Carlo, Nice, Deauville, Le Touquet, and Vichy.
It was in 1925, that Van Cleef & Arpels won the Grand Prize at the International Exposition Of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts. They won with a bracelet adorned with red and white roses crafted out of rubies and diamonds.
In 1926, Estelle and Alfred’s daughter Renee Puissant took over as Artistic Director.
Van Cleef & Arpels are also known for their innovative ‘Mystery Set’. This is a technique whereby the stones in an item of jewellery are set so that no claws or prongs are visible. The ‘Mystery Set’ was patented by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1933. This type of setting takes an extremely long time to accomplish, approximately 300 hours. Because of this, not many items of jewellery are crafted in this way, therefore the mystery setting is extremely rare and valuable.
In 1999, Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A. acquired the firm.
Today, Van Cleef & Arpels today have stores in Canada, the United States, Australia, South East Asia, the Middle East, Zurich, Munich, Milan, London, Shanghai, and Paris.