Cf. S. Raulet, Van Cleef & Arpels, Paris, Éditions du Regard, 1986, p. 176 for a photograph of Hélène Arpels wearing a very similar bracelet
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
The history of the famous Parisian jewellery house began in 1896 with the marriage of Estelle Arpels to Alfred Van Cleef. The company was founded in 1906 by Alfred and his brother-in law, Charles Arpels at 22, Place Vendôme. The design collaboration between René Sim Lacaze and Renée Puissant, the daughter of Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef, began in 1926, marking the start of two decades of highly creative design for the firm. The 1930s saw some of the company’s most iconic designs: the house’s arguable trademark, the Mystery Setting was invented in 1933; and the concept of the Minaudière, made in honour of Florence Jay Gould, was invented in 1930 by Charles Arpels. The versatile ‘Passe Partout’ range was also developed at this time. In the following decades, the firm upheld its reputation for innovation with the snowflake jewels of the 1940s, the zip necklace of the 1950s, the ballet jewels of the 1960s and the Alhambra theme of the 1970s.
René Sim Lacaze was one of the most important jewellery designers and artists of the 20th century. He was incredibly influential as Head of artistic and creative design at Van Cleef & Arpels, a position he held jointly with Renée Puissant, the daughter of Alfred Van Cleef. Lacaze played a major role in the development of the European Art Déco style, and the renderings alongside the beautiful advertisements he drew are referenced in jewellery books around the world
Having attended a four-year training course at Atelier Mentel in Paris, a studio which worked with the most famous jewellers of the time such as Cartier and Boucheron, he started at Van Cleef & Arpels in 1923. Upon his retirement in 1968, Lacaze devoted himself to painting and produced numerous watercolours. He died at the age of 99 in Maisons-Laffitte on 5 January 2000.