Van Cleef & Arpels’ sparkling history on show at ArtScience Museum

On display will be (clockwise from above) a ballerina clip, a clip and pendant shaped like a bird and a zip necklace.
On display will be a ballerina clip.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
On display will be (clockwise from above) a ballerina clip, a clip and pendant shaped like a bird and a zip necklace.
On display will be a clip and pendant shaped like a bird.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
On display will be (clockwise from above) a ballerina clip, a clip and pendant shaped like a bird and a zip necklace.
On display will be a zip necklace.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

More than 400 creations by French jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels will be on display at the ArtScience Museum in April

French luxury jewellery house Van Cleef & Arpels will hold its largest heritage exhibition in Singapore in April.

Spanning more than 100 years of history, The Art & Science Of Gems will showcase more than 400 creations from the jewellery house's archives, plus pieces on loan from private collectors around the world.

Blending art and history with geoscience (the field of science studying planet Earth), the exhibition will also include more than 200 minerals and scientific artefacts from the world-renowned Minerals and Gems Collection of the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The theme of art and science was created specially for Singapore and will not be shown anywhere else.

The exhibition is the first show by the jewellery house in South-east Asia.

Mr Nicolas Bos, the maison's chief executive officer, says including science in the exhibition was a natural progression from its conversations with the ArtScience Museum.

  • BOOK IT / VAN CLEEF & ARPELS, THE ART AND SCIENCE OF GEMS

    WHERE: ArtScience Museum,6 Bayfront Avenue

    MRT: Bayfront

    WHEN: April 23 to Aug 14, 10am to 7pm daily, last admission at 6pm

    ADMISSION: Standard - $17 (adult), $12.80 (senior aged 65 and above), $10 (child aged two to 12 ), $39 (family package of two children and two adults) Singapore residents - $10 (adult), $8.50 (senior aged 65 and above), $6 (child aged two to 12),$26 (family package of two children and two adults)

    INFO: tinyurl.com/js3hpg9

"Originally, what we were interested in when we started working with the ArtScience Museum was the museum itself - its location in the city, its power to attract visitors and its approach to education. In our conversations, we realised it was an opportunity to create a special project that would be true to the name and mission of the museum."

He explains that jewellery as a decorative art is a combination of artistic practice and the application of technique and craftsmanship.

"So there is this idea of science and technique associated with art. We discussed the best way to express that and selected to do so through the stones and artefacts from the French Museum of Natural History."

The maison has shown its collections in other cities such as Tokyo, New York and Paris - each curated with a different theme.

Mr Bos says: "What's unique about (the Singapore) project is that it is two exhibitions in one... to show at the same time and in the same spaces the artistic dimensions of jewellery through Van Cleef & Arpels' creations and the scientific approach through the mineralogy and gem stones from the French National Museum of Natural History.

The exhibition will have seven themes, including couture, precious objects and nature - all chosen to show the artistic influences, styles and history of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Nine key pieces will set the tone for the themes.

For instance, the theme of couture is exemplified in a zip necklace made of platinum, gold, rubies and diamonds. Produced in 1950, the piece is notable for being able to open and close like a zipper and transform from a necklace to a bracelet.

Another striking piece, which the maison has selected as the masterpiece of the exhibition, is a clip and pendant in the shape of a bird, which is made of gold, emerald, sapphire, yellow and white diamonds and a 96.62-carat briolette-cut yellow diamond.

The piece keeps with Van Cleef & Arpels' tradition of transformability: The bird can be changed into a pair of winged earrings and a brooch, while the yellow diamond that hangs from its beak can be worn separately as a pendant.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2016, with the headline 'Gem of a show'. Print Edition | Subscribe