Van Cleef & Arpels new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection or The saga of emeralds. Part 2. The Emerald

After South America had been conquered by the Spaniards,
 emeralds and gold were filling the court of King Charles I and Queen Isabella.
Throughout XVI - th century, small trickles of emeralds from New World
were transforming into big rivers,
which were flowing to the palaces of European and Asian rulers.
Size, clarity, and especially color of South American emeralds were hitherto unseen.
 
Ronald Ringsrud
 “Emeralds, A Passionate Guide”

Over decades, Van Cleef & Arpels have been creating their collections using category Pierres de Caractere ™ (“Stones with character") gems, which are endowed with rare qualities and strike deep chords in people's hearts.

After all, a unique gem initiates creation of every one of a kind creation. Sometimes it takes a short time for a mineral to find its way at the very heart of a precious jewellery. Some stones are in a long queue awaiting the masterpiece, which will reveal their entire splendor. To create their admirable ?meraude en Majest? collection, realized in best traditions of High Jewellery, artists of Van Cleef & Arpels were inspired by treasures that the House had been collecting for more than ten years. You already got acquainted with them in my previous article.

Thus, age-old experience of three generations of craftsmen and experts formed the basis of careful selection 1400 carats of unique Colombian and Zambian emeralds by Van Cleef & Arpels' gemologists for new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection. Specialists selected them according to a whole set of criteria. Only careful study provides insights into the very nature of stone.

The Emerald is the chief father of minerals' family under the joint name of "beryls". It is a green variety of beryl and is the most prominent member of the family. Beryls differ in color: morganite (pink), aquamarine (blue), heliodor (yellow), goshen (colorless) and bixbite (red).

Here is how the emerald's color is described by Rupert Hohleytner, an expert on precious stones: "This word is used not only to designate the gemstone, but also to describe the color. When we have in mind especially beautiful, rich, bright green color, we say "emerald green". As well as sky-blue" refers to the pure shade of blue, "emerald green" refers to the most beautiful, the most noble, the royal color."

Thus, selection of emeralds begins with identification of a mineral's color. Far from every shade of green may satisfy experts. Traditionally, the house of Van Cleef & Arpels gives preference to emeralds of consistent color.

Van Cleef & Arpels Canop?e ring from new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection: White gold, platinum, round and baguette-cut diamonds, one emerald-cut emerald of 13.52 carats (Colombia)

Another criterion is clarity. Are there any inclusions in gems, so characteristic of emeralds and poetically referred to as " jardin "? Where are they? Although they give individuality to a gem and constitute a part of its history, in their jewellery, the house of Van Cleef & Arpels use only minerals with moderately expressed and harmonious inclusions.

Emeralds are among the few gemstones, in which natural inclusions are considered acceptable (they are called jardin, the French for "garden."). "Emeralds are valued for their color and beauty, not for flawlessness. Flawlessness is good only for diamonds. For colored stones, it is their color that matters, and it is the color that determines market price of a stone, "- Ronald Ringsrud writes in his book " Emeralds, A Passionate Guide."

Have a look at the amazing Van Cleef & Arpels Twist ?meraude bracelet from the new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection. The emeralds share the same intense green, accentuated by the depth of their cabochon cut and a brilliance rare in polished gems. Two emerald cabochons – weighing 19.80 and 21.48 carats – seem united in a precious embrace.

Van Cleef & Arpels Twist ?meraude bracelet from new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection: White gold, round diamonds, round mauve sapphires, 2 cabochon-cut emeralds of 19.80 and 21.48 carats (Colombia).

Сrystallization quality is the third selection parameter. This criterion is less known, but for Van Cleef & Arpels it is of paramount importance. Two gems may have the same color, but different shine intensity. Shine depends on conditions in which crystal formation in depths of the Earth was taking place for millions of years.

Finally, cut and proportions play the most important role. This criterion helps to reveal the whole of the jeweller's skill, who knows how to give more shine to the gem, to emphasize its color depth or eliminate an inclusion, which is too explicit.

Cut is the shape acquired by gems after processing. It is often determined by natural form of gems. Since natural emeralds are often in the shape of hexagonal prisms, emerald cut, which is a rectangular or square shape with beveled corners, helps to save the weight of gems in a most effective way.

Van Cleef & Arpels Claudine necklace from the new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection set with nine emeralds from old Colombian mines, whose weights vary from 3.99 to 6.04 carats for a total of 42.07 carats. The emerald cut constitutes an invitation to plunge into the heart of the gems to admire their lifelike, highly crystalized consistency.

Van Cleef & Arpels Claudine necklace from new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection: White gold, yellow gold, round, tapered-cut, triangle-cut, baguette-cut and pear-shaped diamonds, buff-topped round emeralds, 9 emerald-cut emeralds for a total of 42.07 carats (Colombia). Detachable clip

"Emerald cut is a variety of stepped cut, which relates to almost any shape where "stepped" cut of facets is applied. Since octagonal shape is characteristic of emerald cut, each step of it consists of eight facets. Most Colombian emerald - cut gems have 41 facets: two steps plus flat facet of the crown (17 facets), as well as three steps of the pavilion (24 facets).

"Cabochon" cut presumes a semicircular stone of smooth shape without expressed facets. It is usually resistant to cracks and has moderate shine. Prices for cabochons are normally lower than the prices for cut gems of comparable weight. This is due to the fact that raw gems used for cabochons are normally less clear and their level of turbidity and inclusions is higher than that of gems, which are selected for flat cut. In addition, application of "cabochon" cut allows saving more raw material, which helps to reduce per carat pricing.

There is another type of cut, referred to as "sugarloaf", which is a cabochon - cut gem, whose four sides converge to a rounded top. Since the cut favorably displays shine and color of gems, "sugar loafs" have become very popular with designers and customers. When "cabochon" cut is applied to a clear raw gem of stepped shape, the effect is amazing. Clarity allows demonstration of the entire gem's play; when turned or moved, it attracts attention with its fascinating, vibrant colors" (from Ronald Ringsrud’s book “Emeralds, A Passionate Guide”).

“Sugarloaf”- cut emerald

In their reflections, the other cuts – round, cushion or pear-shaped –celebrate the vivacity of a shade of green or the luminosity of a specific crystallization. Like a gentle invitation, some polished stones offer the roundness of a bead or cabochon. With their delicate sensuality, they accentuate the color’s depth in a unique way.

Pear-shaped emerald of 3 carats (Zambia) from Van Cleef & Arpels Lune d’eau ring from new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection

Like a demanding, patient and enthusiastic collector, the Maison has taken the time to search the world for exceptional emeralds. Gem cutters have cut the emeralds so as to emphasize their beauty and reveal their fascinating effect. Designers have created individual sketches for each particular gem, which originated from historical deposits of Colombia, or mines of Zambia or were extracted from old jewellery. Undulating lines, abstract motifs and associations of colors magnify the emerald in all its nuances and cuts.The final part of our article about Van Cleef & Arpels new Haute Joaillerie ?meraude en Majest? collection is dedicated to design. You will be able to see better how Van Cleef & Arpels designers anthem emeralds in their fantasies.

To be continued in the next article...

Van Cleef & Arpels
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Tatyana Pfaifer

The founder of Jewellery Masterpiece