The Minaudière: an icon of femininity and elegance

An iconic Van Cleef & Arpels creation since 1933, the MinaudièreTM has become a jewelry accessory in its own right, an illustration of Van Cleef & Arpels’ vision of elegance.


Charles Arpels drew inspiration for the Minaudière, created by the Maison in 1933, from American socialite Florence Jay Gould, wife of businessman and philanthropist Frank Jay Gould. After watching her carelessly stow her worldly accessories in a simple metal box, Charles Arpels came up with the idea of perfecting the vanity case, a highly popular piece of finery in the 1920s. Alfred Van Cleef dubbed this new creation "Minaudière,” after the name of the family estate outside Paris.

Fashioned from materials such as Stryptor and gold, these cases were engraved, lacquered, adorned with guilloché motifs or embellished with precious stones. They feature several compartments intended to hold the various accessories indispensable for a woman of the world. Slipped into a black satin bag or simply clutched in her hand, this case could conceal a mirror, lipstick, powder compact, cigarette holder, lighter, as well as a miniature retractable watch. True to the Maison’s tradition of transformable jewelry, certain Minaudière clasps can be detached and worn as clips.


Sober, colorful or sparkling, over the years the Minaudière has exhibited a variety of designs echoing changing eras and influences. From the smooth black lacquers of the 1930s to the artistic and nature-inspired decors of the 1950s, not to mention the dreamlike compositions of the 2000s, their precious motifs offer a quintessential note of refinement to exalt feminine figures.