Van Cleef & Arpels and artist Arthur Hoffner celebrate the arrival of winter with the Perlée collection.
If any high-jewellery brand can convey the poetry inherent in its creations, it’s surely Van Cleef & Arpels. And that poetry keeps flowing into the New Year, as the venerable Parisian jewellery house celebrates the Perlée gold bead collection with a new collaboration with French visual artist Arthur Hoffner.
Introduced in 2008, the Perlée Collection is named after perlé (pearled edge) technique, whose golden beaded borders have been adding softness to the maison’s creations for many decades. According to Van Cleef & Arpels president and CEO Nicolas Bos, yellow-gold, rose-gold and white-gold beads have a long history as a delicate and delightful feminine addition to the brand’s repertoire.
“Golden beads have been a decorative element since 1948 with the Couscous and Bagatelle creations,” says Bos. “They’ve also adorned the Alhambra collection since 1968. On the Perlée creations, the golden bead is somewhat elevated from being an accessory to a central element, and its round form injects joy and dynamism into the pieces. The Perlée collection adds a playful depiction of geometry to the world of Van Cleef & Arpels.”
Bos says Hoffner is an ideal collaborator for Perlée, particularly in the way he deals with shapes, colours, and volumes. “I loved his objects, which are at once fun, colourful and extremely simple yet sophisticated, and combined to great effect. It was easy to imagine these works coexisting with a luxurious concept, as well as with a very accessible, almost childlike world. I found his vision very touching.”
Such collaborations suit Hoffner, who’s worked on several projects with the jewellery house since 2018. The partnership has resulted in objects and settings brought to life by interplays of shapes, colours and balance. According to Hoffner, his interpretation of the Perlée collection – comprising stacked rings, necklaces, bracelets and a timepiece – is an ode to the golden bead – its brilliance, roundness and movement.
“From the beginning, there’s been quite a seamless and natural connection between my work and the spirit of this collection,” says Hoffner, “notably the geometric aspect and the simple shapes. The Perlée creations and my work also share a sense of lightness and joy. The sphere is a special geometric shape that’s almost too perfect to be of this Earth. It’s also an element that doesn’t rest on any single point and is actually always in motion.”
For inspiration, Hoffner imagined an enchanting scenery inspired by the contours of a snowy mountain village, where sparkling golden beads dance joyfully in the snow. “It’s the interplay of colours and materials that brings this backdrop to life to showcase the golden bead,” he adds.
At Van Cleef & Arpels, the golden beads epitomise the brand’s meticulous finishing and detailing that adorn its creations. Generous, smooth and regular, the gold beads imbue Perlée jewellery and watches with a harmonious sense of volume. When set with precious stones, the open-worked pieces reveal the flow of light that enhances their overall radiance, while the mirror-polished gold accentuates its shine, creating a glinting interplay that caresses the skin.
Through Hoffner’s vision, Perlée continues to exude a sophisticated charm with a series of ribbon-like sculptures that illustrate the gold bead’s simplicity and inherent beauty. When interpreting one of the jewellery house’s many stylised motifs, such as the four–leaf clover, Hoffner offers asymmetric compositions in which diamonds and white golden beads shimmer to their best advantage. Even the Perlée watch offers a distinct aesthetic, illustrating Van Cleef & Arpels’ concept of jewels that tell time. Elegantly counting the minutes, the timepieces reveal a guilloché dial delicately held in place by a central attachment.