Historic Pieces

    The Chapeau Chinois set


    In Paris 1931, the Exposition Coloniale Internationale set out to display the diverse cultures and arts and crafts of the European colonial empires and attracted some 33 million visitors from all over the world. A poster of the exhibition featuring a slogan inspired by French novelist Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days set the tone for this historical and monumental event: “The great encounter of cultures”.

    For the event, Van Cleef & Arpels transformed the traditional Chinese hat from France’s Far Eastern colonies into a creative jewelry set: the Chapeau Chinois set. Polished gold gives this set an uncluttered and surprisingly modern style that highlights Van Cleef & Arpels’ creative boldness. A timeless work of art, the Chapeau Chinois set was re-launched in 2000.

    The colonial exhibition also gave Van Cleef & Arpels the opportunity to renew its iconography, as well as create its own versions of jewelry inspired by the French colonies, some of which were purchased by socialite Florence Jay Gould.