Very few fine jewelry designs can be considered iconic, but Van Cleef & Arpels’ Zip necklace is assuredly one. The brainchild of the Duchess of Windsor, the design was first conceived in the late 1930s, but was not produced until 1950.
This incredible masterpiece takes the form of a zipper closure, just as you would find on a dress or handbag. The zipper can be opened to become a necklace, with the tasseled pull hanging at the front or back and the wearer’s throat encircled by the “teeth” of the zipper. When completely closed, the Zip is transformed into a bracelet to wrap around the wearer’s wrist. The action of the zipper is precise and smooth, the elements of the design perfectly considered and engineered.
The earliest sketch of the Zip from 1938 imagined the precious piece as platinum set with a multitude of fine round and baguette diamonds. In the many iterations since, exquisite colored gemstones have often complemented or replaced diamonds and yellow gold has been used in place of platinum. The extravagant creation’s tassel may be comprised of sumptuous sapphire beads, lustrous pearls, or finely woven gold chain.
Van Cleef & Arpels is revered for its original designs and high standard of execution. For those privileged to produce, handle, or wear icons like the Zip, the coalescence of style, materials, and craftsmanship is thrilling.
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