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Gems with lots of fairy-tale glitter

Updated: 2012-06-11 15:32
By Xu Junqian ( China Daily)
Gems with lots of fairy-tale glitter

The swirling leaf brooch made with diamonds and rubies is used as the logo of the exhibition. Provided to China Daily

As huge black and green tassels dangle from the ceiling, a ballerina dressed in red twirls tirelessly and a bird watches from its golden cage, jealous that it may never get a chance to leave. And so, the glass-and-steel Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art which turns into a dark, mysterious forest setting for any fairy tale.

But in this fantasy world created by French jewelry label Van Cleef & Arpels, there is no evil or intrigue. Instead, a collection of 370 sparkling gems - believed to be the embodiment of love, wisdom or anything a fairy-tale princess craves - is on display in this exhibition on two floors.

This is the first time the century-old luxury jeweler, founded in 1906, has held an exhibition in China. The pieces are on loan from private collections and museums worldwide and worth millions of yuan.

Occupying both floors of the museum, the exhibition Timeless Beauty is curated by world-famous designers Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku, who have cleverly showcased some of the most important collections in a glass tube for 360-degree viewing.

The main exhibits include a swirling leaf made from diamonds and rubies; the logo of the exhibition, a golden bird cage once ordered by Indian Royalty Maharaja Pratapsinh Gaekwad, and two Zip necklaces, a unique invention of the brand that enables the jewel to be worn in different ways, either open as a necklace or closed as a bracelet.

Developed around four themes - exoticism, nature, elegance and femininity - the exhibition reproduces the glamour of jewels that once crowned figures like Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and a galaxy of royal princesses.

Gems with lots of fairy-tale glitter

One of the eyecatchers is a heavily adorned tiara, once worn by the last queen of Iran, Queen Farah Diba.

Though a replica, the tiara at the exhibition features a total of 1,541 stones, including a spectacular 150-carat diamond in the center, 1,469 smaller diamonds and 36 emeralds.

To celebrate its first exhibition in China, the luxury jeweler has not only unveiled a special collection of gems featuring Chinese elements like dragons, temples, Chinese calligraphy and jade, but also introduced several brand-new designs including a white- and red-gold Silk Road Dancer clip, which pays homage to the Chinese dance drama Along the Silk Road and features rose-cut diamonds and ruby detailing.

"Van Cleef & Arpels has incorporated Chinese culture into its designs since the 1930s, when communication between China and France started," says Stanislas de Quercize, CEO and president of Van Cleef Arpels.

The relationship continues happily to this day.

"They (the new jewels) will be a gift for both the exhibition and China," he added.