There’s something magical about the start of a new year! It seems fresh and exciting – a new start, new beginnings! This is the time of year when people set goals and make resolutions! So of course I’ve done all that, and we’ll see if those stick….. (ha!) But it got me thinking about jewelry…. what kind of jewelry inspires that hopeful feeling? And I thought of the beautiful, magical fairies that Van Cleef & Arpels made during Word War II. So if you don’t know about these lovely, sparkling creatures, read on! I’m happy to tell you all about them.
First….. the ballet
If you don’t know about Van Cleef & Arpels, I did a post on them a while back (read it by clicking here). They are an iconic luxury jewelry house. From France, of course! They opened up a shop in New York City during World War II, and it wasn’t long after that they came out with these gorgeous little ballerina pins.
<img class=" wp-image-5764 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas2.jpg" alt="Ballerina pins from Van Cleef & Arpels" width="502" height="502" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas2.jpg 800w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas2-150x150.jpg 150w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas2-300x300.jpg 300w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas2-768x768.jpg 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas2-610x610.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 502px) 100vw, 502px" /> Ballerina pins from Van Cleef & Arpels
The owner of the company (Louis Arpels) and his nephew were huge fans of the ballet. They also happened to be personal friends with George Balanchine, a Russian ballet dancer who had been part of the famous Ballets Russes. George and another friend started the School of American Ballet in 1934 (and it’s till around today!). Louis felt like his jewelry design and George’s ballet had a lot in common. Essentially, both required precision and detail. And in the end, you had something beautiful and graceful. The little pins were incredibly popular in America. They were whimsical and colorful, and there wasn’t anything else like them at that time. With the war going on, people wanted things that were happy and cheerful, and these fit the bill.
<img class=" wp-image-5778 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Screen-Shot-2019-01-24-at-2.47.41-PM.png" alt="Sometimes, the pin came with matching earrings, like this adorable pair." width="540" height="353" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Screen-Shot-2019-01-24-at-2.47.41-PM.png 1600w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Screen-Shot-2019-01-24-at-2.47.41-PM-300x196.png 300w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Screen-Shot-2019-01-24-at-2.47.41-PM-768x502.png 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Screen-Shot-2019-01-24-at-2.47.41-PM-1024x670.png 1024w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Screen-Shot-2019-01-24-at-2.47.41-PM-610x399.png 610w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Screen-Shot-2019-01-24-at-2.47.41-PM-1080x706.png 1080w" sizes="(max-width: 540px) 100vw, 540px" /> Sometimes, the pin came with matching earrings, like this adorable pair.
From a jewelry design perspective, these pins are meant to focus on the movement of the dancers. So while there are many different poses, it always seems as if the ballerina was stopped mid-dance, and you can almost imagine what she’s going to do next. Note how all the toes are pointed, too. And how they used one rose-cut diamond for the face (most of the time).
They’re all so pretty!
<img class=" wp-image-5754 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas.jpg" alt="Variety of ballerina pins from Van Cleef & Arpels" width="500" height="500" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas.jpg 800w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas-150x150.jpg 150w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas-300x300.jpg 300w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas-768x768.jpg 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/ballerinas-610x610.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" /> Variety of ballerina pins from Van Cleef & Arpels
Van Cleef is a company that prides themselves on storytelling. The ballerina pins were beautiful and told the story of dance. Their fairy pins are equally beautiful, but used the cartoons of the times as inspiration. Back then, fairies were popular as friendly guardians of nature. Not too different from how they’re seen today.
<img class=" wp-image-5784 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/cartoonFairies.jpg" alt="Vintage fairy illustrations" width="500" height="500" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/cartoonFairies.jpg 800w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/cartoonFairies-150x150.jpg 150w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/cartoonFairies-300x300.jpg 300w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/cartoonFairies-768x768.jpg 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/cartoonFairies-610x610.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" /> Vintage fairy illustrations
The Van Cleef fairies were mischievous and magical, but kind. The first clip was created in 1940.
<img class=" wp-image-5773 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies.jpg" alt="Some of the first fairy clips made by Van Cleef & Arpels, including an original drawing" width="534" height="534" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies.jpg 800w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies-150x150.jpg 150w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies-300x300.jpg 300w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies-768x768.jpg 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies-610x610.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 534px) 100vw, 534px" /> Some of the first fairy clips made by Van Cleef & Arpels, including an original drawing
Over the years, the fairies have struck different poses, but in general, the thing they have in common is the use of lots and lots of diamonds!
<img class=" wp-image-5775 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies4.jpg" alt="A variety of fairy pins by Van Cleef & Arpels" width="500" height="500" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies4.jpg 800w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies4-150x150.jpg 150w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies4-300x300.jpg 300w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies4-768x768.jpg 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Fairies4-610x610.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" /> A variety of fairy pins by Van Cleef & Arpels
Check out this one minute video where you can really see the detail and sparkle of the very first fairy clip:
The fairy pins were just as popular as the ballerina pins. They had famous fans then and now. In 1944, Barbara Hutton had her own fairy pin with diamonds, emeralds, and rubies. More recently, Sharon Stone wore a 1955 fairy pin in diamonds and platinum to the 1994 Academy Awards.
<img class=" wp-image-5786 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Sharon-Stone-1994.jpg" alt="Sharon Stone, 1994, with her fairy pin" width="421" height="431" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Sharon-Stone-1994.jpg 967w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Sharon-Stone-1994-293x300.jpg 293w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Sharon-Stone-1994-768x787.jpg 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Sharon-Stone-1994-610x625.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 421px) 100vw, 421px" /> Sharon Stone, 1994, with her fairy pin
Fairies that tell time
Van Cleef has recently been incorporating fairies into its timepieces. Below you can see the original pin that inspired the two watches currently for sale on their website. If you have literally thousands of dollars you want to spend (the blue one is $202,000), you can have a fairy watch of your very own!!!!
And just recently, Van Cleef unveiled what it’s calling an “extraordinary object.” It’s an exquisitely beautiful fairy, with a faceted aquamarine face and enamel wings, who sits on a lily pad. The piece is essentially an elaborate clock.But it took eight years and a variety of incredibly talented craftsmen to make!
<img class=" wp-image-5793 lazyload" src="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FeeOdine.jpg" alt="The extraordinary fairy clock from Van Cleef" width="500" height="500" srcset="https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FeeOdine.jpg 800w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FeeOdine-150x150.jpg 150w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FeeOdine-300x300.jpg 300w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FeeOdine-768x768.jpg 768w, https://valthegemgal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/FeeOdine-610x610.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 500px) 100vw, 500px" /> The extraordinary fairy clock from Van Cleef
Take a look at this video (it’s short, I promise!) to see the fairy wake up from her sleep:
All in all, I’m pretty enchanted with the little fairy pins! Do you like them too? Have a favorite? Let me know what you think below in the comments.