Cooper-Hewitt Museum: Set in Style – The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels

If anything, Van Cleef & Arpels are recognized for the unique way their stones are set – the Mystery Set.

Mystery-Set Bouquet Brooch, rubies and diamonds

This Mystery-Set Bouquet Brooch is an early example of the Mystery Setting. Van Cleef & Arpels as sought for creative innovation through improving stone cutting and setting techniques. The invention of new mechanisms during the Industrial Revolution resulted the development and patented ‘Mystery-Setting’ in the mid 1930s. This new setting technique resulted in a perfectly matched and hugging shapes where the stones come together to form a seamless surface.

Since it first opened in Paris in 1906, jewelry design institution Van Cleef & Arpels has played a leading figure in style and design. Their timeless pieces have been adorned by style icons including the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, and Elizabeth Taylor.

In 2011, the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum exhibited the stunning designs in Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels. The exhibition focused on the historical significance of the firm’s contributions to jewelry design in the 20th century through the lenses of inspiration, exoticism, fashion and celebrity, and archival design drawings.

Read more about their constributions in design history at the exhibition site:

or at

Below are slides that briefly summarize Van Cleef & Arpels constributions, achivements, and historial significance.

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