Almost a decade after the first attempt to enter the American market in the 1920s, Van Cleef & Arpels began applying itself seriously to the New World in the late 1930s, thanks to Claude and Louis Arpels’ business sense.
After taking part in the World’s Fair of 1939, the Maison opened a boutique in Palm Beach in 1940 and then in New York - at the famous address of 744 Fifth Avenue - in 1942. With the outbreak of World War II, most of the Arpels family relocated to New York, where they hired expert craftsmen to merge Old World skills with New World tastes.
Van Cleef & Arpels USA catalog cover, 1957, Van Cleef & Arpels’ Archives
744 Fifth Avenue Boutique, circa 1945
The American branch quickly adapted to its surroundings, creating popular designs influenced by famous cartoon characters and other American icons.
It was a fruitful period for the Maison. In New York, Van Cleef & Arpels broadened the firm’s use of gold, semi-precious stones, and other materials, whose popularity then spread from America back to Europe. The Van Cleef & Arpels of the 20th century was a cross-cultural fusion of the best that France and the United States had to offer.