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In 1937, Wallis Simpson married Prince Edward of Great Britain, becoming the Duchess of Windsor. This union consummated a controversial passion between the audacious American and the heir to the British crown, who abdicated in 1936 in order to marry “the woman I love.”
Their love story is reflected in a number of pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels. Indeed, the couple shared a passion for jewelry, and the Duke would spend hours with the Maison’s designers to develop and customize jewels for the Duchess. The ruby and diamond Cravate necklace (1936), the sapphire and diamond Jarretière bracelet (1936) and the in diamonds and Mystery Set rubies Deux Plumes clip (1936) stand out as stunning examples.
Product card of a Jarretière bracelet that belonged to the Duchess of Windsor, 1937, Van Cleef & Arpels Archives
Product card of a Two Feathers clip in diamonds and Mystery Set rubies that belonged to the Duchess of Windsor, 1936, Van Cleef & Arpels Archives
Product card of a Double clip that belonged to the Duchess of Windsor, 1935, Van Cleef & Arpels Archives
A close friend of the Maison, the Duchess of Windsor is also said to have encouraged Renée Puissant, then Artistic Director at Van Cleef & Arpels, to create the Zip necklace, a piece designed to be worn either open around the neck, or closed, gracing the wrist as a bracelet.
Drawing featuring the Cravate necklace of the Duchess of Windsor, 1939, Van Cleef & Arpels Archives