Van Cleef and Arpels exhibition opens at national museum in Riyadh

This article was originally written by Ghadi Joudah for Arab News and published on January 25, 2023.

  • Director General of the National Museum of Saudi Arabia Laila Alfaddagh told Arab News that this collaboration between the museum and the jewelry house stems from a shared vision and interest.

RIYADH: French luxury jewelry brand Van Cleef & Arpels is holding an exhibition in Riyadh featuring creations previously owned by Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Egypt’s Queen Nazli and Princess Fawzia.

The immersive exhibition invites attendees to explore the Van Cleef & Arpels universe, showcasing the bespoke craftsmanship, leading designs and artistry that have characterized the high jewelry maison’s history.

This first-of-its-kind exhibition in the Kingdom features around 280 pieces of jewelry, watches and precious objects created since the maison’s founding in 1906. These rare creations have been carefully selected under the curation of Alba Cappellieri, professor of jewelry design at Milan Polytechnic University and president of the Milano Fashion Institute. The collection is themed according to three sections dedicated to the notions of time, nature and love.

Nicolas Bos, president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels, told Arab News: “What I really expect and look forward to doing together with the team of the museum is to cater to very wide audiences. So not only jewelry experts or connoisseurs but really anybody that has a curiosity for jewelry and decorative arts.”

(AN Photo by Abdulrahman Shalhoub)

Bos said that the message Van Cleef & Arpels wishes to convey through this collaboration is that jewelry is a magical and exciting form of art.

“Regardless of the value, price and rarity, you see the expression of craftsmanship, the beauty of the stones, great inspirations, dialogue with other forms of art and culture that sometimes are unexpected,” Bos added.

Alongside high jewelry, over 90 archival documents, sketches and gouache designs are on display.

(AN Photo by Abdulrahman Shalhoub)

Director-General of the National Museum of Saudi Arabia Laila Al-Faddagh told Arab News that this collaboration between the museum and the jewelry house stems from a shared vision and interest.

“Van Cleef & Arpels are amazing at preserving their archival pieces, and they’re amazing at promoting them. And that’s something that museums do, and that commonality was what encouraged this partnership,” Al-Faddagh said.

In addition to the wide range of timeless pieces, the exhibition reaffirms some of Van Cleef & Arpels’ fundamental values, particularly creation, transmission and education, through an extensive program that includes talks with regional and international speakers, workshops for both adults and children, as well as other interactive educational activities.

(AN Photo by Abdulrahman Shalhoub)

Al-Faddagh told Arab News: “The programs are not going to end with this exhibition. We’re having year-long programs, and I want everyone to feel comfortable and excited to visit us because we want to welcome everyone.”


Among the prized pieces, some were previously owned by Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Queen Nazli of Egypt, and Princess Fawzia of Egypt.

L’ECOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, supported by Van Cleef & Arpels, will offer courses, workshops and talks given by its professors on the following topics: “Nature: The Inspiration for Architecture,” “The Secret Language of Flowers,” and “The Philosophy Behind Love.” Several renowned international speakers have also been asked to give the talks: “Saudi Arabia’s Influence in Local Industry” and “The Secrets of Sentimental Jewels.”

(AN Photo by Abdulrahman Shalhoub)

Founded at Paris’ 22 Place Vendome in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels came into being following diamond-cutter Alfred Van Cleef’s marriage to Estelle Arpels in 1895. Van Cleef & Arpels perpetuates a distinctive style that has produced numerous signatures. Among them are the Mystery Set technique, the minaudiere, the transformable zip necklace and the Alhambra motif.

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