A Brief History Of Van Cleef & Arpels' Zip Necklace

Before all those diamond-encrusted money clips, pearl hooks and gold vermeil straws, there was the Zip necklace, which burst onto the scene in the '50s with its radical approach to haute joaillerie. Van Cleef & Arpels is widely regarded as one of the first jewellers, if not the first, to elevate everyday objects to high jewellery status, ever since it took the ordinary zipper as inspiration for an exquisite necklace in gold and precious stones. 
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And it is all thanks to the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, whose famous (and infamous) love story with the former King Edward VIII was marked by many Van Cleef & Arpels creations, that this innovative necklace came to fruition in 1950. It was she who encouraged Renée Puissant, then-artistic director of the Maison, to conceive a design based on the humble zipper, which had just entered the mainstream at that time.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Puissant returned to her drawing board and came up with the original Zip necklace, shaped from supple, diamond-embellished gold ribbons with borders of tiny hooks that interlaced with each other. 

Boasting a freedom of movement akin to the actual fastener, the necklace also parades the brand’s savoir-faire in crafting transformative jewels, as it seamlessly morphs into a bracelet when "zipped". 

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Van Cleef & Arpels has gone above and beyond to accord the necklace with a sense of flexibility, employing an articulation technique and adding finesse to every possible detail in order to perfect the graceful contour of the piece as it drapes around the neck and on the wrist. 

Over the years, the Zip necklace has been revisited in various iterations, from monochromatic gemstones to Art Deco influences and to Oriental undertones. The Zip Antique necklace, for instance, is a faithful reproduction of the original model, while the Zip Couture necklace is designed to adorn a décolleté or a bared back. 

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