This brooch is reminiscent of the designs presented by Van Cleef & Arpels during the 1937 International Exhibition of the Arts and Techniques of Modern Living. The jewelry portion of the exposition was presided over by Georges Fouquet. During this show jewels started to become less geometric and more voluminous and curved in form; the natural motifs that were so favored during the Art Deco period were present but less than in previous years.
It was during the 1937 exhibition that Van Cleef & Arpels presented their celebrated Mystery Set technique, where stones are set in such a manner that the metal becomes nearly invisible. 'Jarretière' bracelets fashioned from sapphires and rubies, similar in design to the present brooch, were formerly in the collections of style icons such as the Duchess of Windsor and Marlene Dietrich (the sapphire style from the collection of the Duchess of Windsor was known as the 'Marriage Contract' bracelet). Unique in form and versatile to wear, the present brooch represents a specific and celebrated moment in the history of Van Cleef & Arpels.
For additional information on the 1937 exposition see Van Cleef & Arpels: The Art of High Jewelry, edited by Évelyne Possémé, pages 98-107.
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