The art of watch-making

    Mother-of-pearl engraving and marquetry


    Mother-of-pearl is a material, which Van Cleef & Arpels holds dear to its heart. Its use in timepieces is a tribute to the Maison’s know-how and continuous spirit of innovation.

    The challenge of using mother-of pearl in timepieces lies in the dial-maker’s ability to adapt mother-of-pearl work to the confined space of a watch dial. Mother-of-pearl is a soft and delicate material that needs to be handled with extreme care. It originates from the interiors of shells, which Van Cleef & Arpels carefully selects from Tahiti, Bali, or New Zealand. This meticulous selection process is based on the uniqueness of their hues, textures, and colors

    The final result achieves a vibrantly colored, iridescent, and harmonious effect.

    Mother-of-pearl engraving and marquetry - Van Cleef & Arpels

    After selection, the mother-of-pearl is worked until the required thickness and uniformity is obtained. A flat lower surface is required to fit the dial, while the material’s upper surface is meticulously detailed with relief sculpting, which will eventually bring the final decoration to life.

    A second piece of mother-of-pearl is polished to achieve a beautiful iridescent effect, and then cut into the shapes needed to form the required final pattern. The cutting is done with great precision to ensure that each shape fits perfectly into its specific place on the dial.

    The final result achieves a vibrantly colored, iridescent, and harmonious effect, which highlights the natural beauty of mother-of-pearl.

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