The Art of Craft: A New Bracelet From Van Cleef & Arpels Brings to Life the Illustrations of a Turn-of-the-Century French Astronomer

The bracelet comes from the French house’s latest line of high jewelry, which explores the nexus of design and astronomy.

Behind the scenes of the Terre et Lune bracelet in production. Photo courtesy Van Cleef & Arpels.

In January, the French luxury house Van Cleef & Arpels unveiled its latest line of high jewelry. Titled Sous Les Étoiles, the collection examines where the worlds of art, astronomy, and science meet.

The unlikely assemblage of references resulted in a dazzling line of objects fashioned after planetary orbs, starry skies, and the cosmos more generally, employing textured gold, deep blue and vibrant yellow sapphires, and scores of variously cut white diamonds that encrust nearly every object in the collection. 

The Terre et Lune bracelet. Photo courtesy Van Cleef & Arpels.

The Terre et Lune bracelet. Photo courtesy Van Cleef & Arpels.

While the more obvious highlights—like the Nuée d’Émeraudes necklace, which boasts 62.30 carats of forest-green emeralds and is modeled after the blue-green glow emitted from a famous Jupiter family comet—speak for themselves, the most artistic pieces may be the collection’s subtler objects, such as the Terre et Lune bracelet. Its design was conceived as an homage to the relationship between the earth and its moon and was additionally inspired by Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, and the evocative illustrations found in many of the written works of French astronomer Camille Flammarion. 

Photo courtesy Van Cleef & Arpels.

Photo courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

The bracelet depicts “the eternal duet of these heavenly bodies,” according to the house. The earth is portrayed in a series of “mystery-set” blue baguette sapphires—a setting technique conceived and patented by Van Cleef in December of 1933 that makes stones appear as though they are floating over the object they cover, without any visible prongs or settings. The sapphires face off against the moon, an orb smaller and more delicate in size, its hole-y terrain reflected in a series of white diamonds set with inverted pavilions.

Rounding the earth and running down the line of the bracelet itself, too, is a thread of rose gold, which Van Cleef’s designers included to evoke the equator, using diamonds and yellow sapphires that dot their surfaces. Altogether, the bracelet recalls continents and stars, skies and seas.  

While the object is still in production, it will be available later this year for purchase upon request.  

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