The French jewellery maison Van Cleef & Arpels is bringing its savoir-faire to Saudi Arabia, with the opening of a dedicated exhibition.
In a first for the kingdom, an exhibition called Van Cleef & Arpels: Time, Nature, Love will open at the National Museum of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh, on January 19. The show will run until April 15.
The exhibition will showcase more than 280 pieces of jewellery, watchmaking and objet d'art, which will date from 1906 until the present day. With many made to order for wealthy customers, accompanying some of the items will be the original documents, sketches and gouache designs, all borrowed from the VCA archives.
The exhibition, curated by Alba Cappellieri, professor of jewellery design at Polytechnic University of Milan and president of the Milano Fashion Institute, will be divided into the three themes of Time, Nature and Love.
The first story, Time, will unfold across 10 rooms, with many dedicated to a particular time or place — the first room is centred on Paris, for example — while also showing how the disciplines of dance, couture and architecture intersect with high jewellery. As a house, VCA has an ongoing fascination with ballet and dance, with the ballerina a signature motif throughout its work.
The central part of the show, Love, celebrates the many tokens and symbols of love, from the love story behind the house itself — when Alfred Van Cleef met Estelle Arpels in 1895 — to the jewellery made to celebrate some of the most famous romances of the 20th century.
The final segment is dedicated to Nature, another recurring theme for VCA, shown here as Botany, Flora and Fauna, that give full flight to the expertise of the craftsman in the atelier.
As well as being able to admire the exceptional beauty of the items, visitors will be able to see up close the remarkable skills required to create such masterpieces. With education a key principle of the house, and how artisanal knowledge is preserved for future generations, the exhibition will also be hosting talks with regional and international speakers, as well as adult and children’s workshops.