Van Cleef & Arpels and dance: a pas de deux

Enriching the quest for excellence with a taste for beauty and harmony, Van Cleef & Arpels has drawn boundless inspiration from the world of dance. The art of ballet lends a graceful flair and an enchanting aura of poetry to the Maison’s jewelry creations and delicate feminine figures.

The longstanding bond between Van Cleef & Arpels and dance dates back to the 1920s. At the time, Louis Arpels, a fervent fan of ballet, would often take his nephew Claude to the Paris Opera. Under their leadership, the Maison’s first ballerina clips were created in New York in the early 1940s, soon becoming signature pieces of Van Cleef & Arpels. Featuring a rose-cut diamond face complemented by a precious headdress, these ballerina figures are depicted with point shoes and a tutu made of diamonds or colored stones that seems to flow, echoing the dancers’ movements. Their aerial attitudes and the beauty of their attire enchant all who behold them, collectors in particular.

The bond uniting Van Cleef & Arpels and the world of dance grew even stronger in 1961, when Claude Arpels made the acquaintance of famed choreographer George Balanchine, co-founder of the New York City Ballet. Their shared passion for precious stones gave rise to Jewels, a ballet created by Balanchine in 1967. In this non-narrative triptych inspired by emeralds, rubies and diamonds, each gem takes center stage for one act. Every part features music by a different composer: Gabriel Fauré for Emeralds, Igor Stravinsky for Rubies and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky for Diamonds.

  • Drawing featuring a Dancer clip, circa 1945, Van Cleef & Arpels Archives

    Drawing featuring a Dancer clip, circa 1945

  • Ballerina clip, 1952 Platinum, yellow gold, turquoises, rubies, diamond, Van Cleef & Arpels Collection

    Ballerina clip, 1952. Platinum, yellow gold, turquoises, rubies, diamond, Van Cleef & Arpels Collection

Today, the Maison maintains its ties with the world of dance through a number of collaborations and sponsorship initiatives. Since 2012, it has supported the dance troupe L.A. Dance Project, founded by French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied. Van Cleef & Arpels also encourages innovation and emerging talents in the field of choreographic creation via its partnership with the Fedora philanthropic community. Since 2015, the annual “FEDORA – VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Prize for Ballet” has awarded excellence in new ballet productions.

In 2020, Van Cleef & Arpels composed a new chapter in its abiding ties to dance with the launch of Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels. Through this initiative, the Maison supports artists and institutions for the dissemination of choreographic repertoires, all while promoting new creations. To enrich these artistic partnerships, a major event will be organized annually in various regions of the world.