Important Jewels: Part II

Important Jewels: Part II

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 120. Lapis Lazuli, Pink Tourmaline, Cultured Pearl and Diamond 'Zip' Necklace-Bracelet Combination, France.

Important Jewels from a Private Collection

Van Cleef & Arpels

Lapis Lazuli, Pink Tourmaline, Cultured Pearl and Diamond 'Zip' Necklace-Bracelet Combination, France

Auction Closed

October 20, 04:07 PM GMT


250,000 - 350,000 USD

Lot Details


Designed as a working zipper, set with round diamonds, round and square-cut pink tourmalines and lapis lazuli beads, the tassel further adorned by cultured pearls and pink tourmaline beads.

  • Diamonds weighing a total of approximately 6.35 carats
  • Internal circumference 18 inches, detachable for wear as a 7-inch bracelet
  • Signed Van Cleef & Arpels, numbered JH002223
  • French assay and maker's mark, Swiss hallmarks
  • 18 karat white gold
  • Accompanied by a signed box and pouch
  • Accompanied by a Van Cleef & Arpels certificate of authenticity and gouache drawing

The Zip necklace is a marvel of skill and ingenuity, standing among the most iconic designs in the history of jewelry. Beginning in the 1930s, with the creation of the Ludo bracelet, Van Cleef & Arpels pushed the boundaries of the goldsmith’s art, acting as couturiers to devise jewels as supple as silk. By the 1940s, textile motifs poured forth from their workshops in the form of tassels, “lace” bows, ribbons, pompoms and wirework tulle. The culmination and magnum opus of this period of sartorial exploration was, of course, the Zip.

The idea for the Zip is said to have originated with the Duchess of Windsor who, upon seeing zippers incorporated into clothing by Elsa Schiaparelli, asked Van Cleef’s creative director, Renée Puissant, to follow suit. With this, an eminently practical mechanism was transformed into a spectacular jewel, but only after 12 years of trial and error. The great irony stemming from the Zip's long journey from conception to completion (1938-1950) is that the Duchess never in fact owned one herself, perhaps due to the pleasant distraction provided by the many other extraordinary, one-of-a-kind jewels she regularly added to her collection.

Each Zip is emblematic of technical virtuosity and clear-minded exertion. As a result, only a limited number of them were made in the 1950s. Van Cleef & Arpels re-introduced the Zip in 2005, incorporating a greater variety of materials and adding fanciful twists to the original design. The process today is no less labor-intensive: the sapphire example worn by Margot Robbie at the 2015 Academy Awards was reported to have taken 600 hours to make. In the similarly designed piece offered here (Lot 120), the traditional zip of yellow gold with a foxtail fringe tassel is conceived in white gold with lapis lazuli, pink tourmalines and cultured pearls. Like the original Zip, it may be converted into a bracelet, the ultimate in versatility. Lot 168 affords a different kind of versatility, its attenuated form allowing for the links to be zipped to a great many levels with the additional benefit of the option to wear it in reverse, down the back. Both jewels exemplify the enduring legacy of great designs by Van Cleef & Arpels.