Thing – The Breath of Antiquity
A year ago, when the French House of Van Cleef & Arpels premiered the high jewelry collection Palais de la Chance, the bracelet with the heads of dragons looking at each other at both ends was not in it. Dragons d’eau or “Water Dragons” is one of the latest decorations in the collection that continues to grow with new creations.
Van Cleef & Arpels has it that way: even after a year, or even more, designers and jewelers of the House continue to develop a successful (in this case, a pun comes out – after all, the collection is called “Palace of Luck”) until it is completely exhausted or will not satisfy their creative ambitions, coupled with the interest of collectors and customers.
The last two factors are still relevant, that is why in the collection, in the Lucky Legends line, new jewelry has appeared, and this despite the fact that already on July 2, 2013, in Paris, Van Cleef & Arpels will show the world a completely new high-end jewelry collection called Pierre de Caractere – Variations.
Returning to the subject of this conversation: why is Dragons d’eau bracelet so remarkable? Actually, its stylistics, the execution of which big jewelers delight fans of the genre not often. Similar wrist bracelets with animal heads at two ends are known from ancient times: the first artifacts were created in Assyria of the 8th century BC, and already from the Assyrians this jewelry tradition spread to the whole culture of the Mediterranean, and the creation of bracelets with lion heads, Ancient Greek, Etruscan, Scythian and Roman Roman craftsmen were engaged in bulls, snakes, rams.
In European jewelry fashion, as they say in their research book “Jewelry Art. Illustrated reference book on jewelry. Sotheby’s experts David Bennett and Danielle Mashetti, such animalistic wrists, came along with the so-called archaeological style of the 1870s, when ancient specimens were found during numerous archaeological excavations of the time. True, the era has made its own adjustments to the style of these animal bracelets: under the influence of fashionable Gothic novels at that time, they began to be created with the image of medieval chimeras and griffins.
After a certain recession in animal wrist fashion, they returned to the arsenal of jewelers as early as the 1920s and again under the influence of ancient Indian, Egyptian and Chinese art. The first samples of such wrists in the XX century created the Chinese dragons and Indian “Makara”, mysterious mythological sea monsters, and both of them – symbols of well-being in the East, in the House of Cartier. Of course, it was not without the main figurative plot of Cartier – the panthers, or rather two predators looking at each other, such bracelets with wild cats were made by the House in the second half of the XX century.
But just for Van Cleef & Arpels, such bracelets were almost uncharacteristic, the minds of French jewelers were more occupied with ancient Egyptian art and, as a result, cuff bracelets depicting friezes from the life of the pharaohs and their gods. Why is the current decoration is even more interesting creative precedent, and perhaps someone else’s private order – this is delicately kept silent about it in the House, just to say that the “dragons” have already been sold …
The jewelery world is obliged to David Webb in the 1960s — in the 1960s, this American jeweler began to create bracelets, first in imitation of Carier with those very “chimeras”, and then, finding his own style, portrayed elephants, lions, tigers, zebras , horses, bulls and other representatives of the entire animal world, however, for the most part still with one head, not two. Today, David Webb bracelets of the 1960s and 1970s are the subject of hunting at auctions. However, the jewelry brand still exists today, although its ideologue and inspirer died in 1975, and his present designers still produce famous animalistic bracelets, although, of course, the original Webb designs are much more valuable.
It is in this stylistic range that the bracelet of Dragons d’eau of the House of Van Cleef & Arpels stands. This flip-flop (i.e., opening to the outside) wrist is created in white gold, with rose gold trim elements (dragon mustache). The body of the dragons is studded with diamonds and blue sapphires, their heads are made of complex, voluminous ornaments all in the same diamonds, gray and colorless, their necks are lined with turquoise, their eyes are emerald glowing, and on their heads there is a 23.66 pear-shaped cut sapphire with a weight of 23.66 and 25.37 carats.
Of course, dragons as a figurative plot in this bracelet did not appear by chance – a symbol of good luck in the East, which is now listed as number one for all luxury manufacturers, in recent years, the dragon has become the hero of hundreds of decorative watches and jewelry, including the Palais collection. de la Chance (Dragon’s brooch and Souffle des Nuages necklace all in the same Lucky Legends line). But in a similar animalistic wrist, the dragon has not yet been noticed! So I want to believe that this genre will revive again in many jewelry workshops.