Memorable 20th-century balls are celebrated in a glamorous new jewellery collection, which makes its debut in the UAE this week.
Bals de Légende gem show brings a world of dreams to Design Days Dubai
On September 3, 1951, the flamboyant Mexican-Spanish multimillionaire Charles de Beistegui gave one of the most opulent masked balls Venice and the world have ever seen.
“The press at the time described it as the party of the century or as we say in France, le bal du siècle,” says Alban Belloir, the regional director of the French jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels. “It took place in the Palazzo Labia and was a very extravagant and glamorous night, with guests like Salvador Dalí and Orson Welles.”
Van Cleef & Arpels pays tribute to the affair and four other memorable 20th-century balls in its high jewellery collection Bals de Légende, comprising 50 unique pieces, which makes its debut in the Middle East at Design Days Dubai from March 18-21. Also on display that week, and showcasing the brand’s century-long tradition of fine craftsmanship, will be four timepieces portraying the elegance of the opulent evenings in Italy, Russia, the US and France.
Each of the five haute joaillerie sets tells the story of the sophisticated soirées through collections of rings, necklaces and clips in a dazzling array of precious stones including a 20.12-carat emerald and a 30.76-carat yellow sapphire.
Capturing the spirit of the Venice carnival, Van Cleef & Arpels’s Bauta motif ring is inspired by the 18th-century high-society mask. The design is chiselled into the sides of the ring in grey mother-of-pearl surrounding a magnificent blue 25.15-carat sapphire from Sri Lanka.
Equally precious is the Miss Audrey ring, at the centre of which sits a 17.92-carat natural pearl with a pink lustre. Paying homage to the style of women from the Belle Époque era who attended Baroness Guy de Rothschild’s Le Bal Proust of 1971, brilliant and baguette diamonds surround the ring’s centrepiece in mounts similar to the soft swathes of an evening gown.
“We also have a necklace called Marisa inspired by the famous actress of the time, Marisa Berenson,” says Belloir of the star who wore a dramatic black feathered headdress to the centenary celebrations of the French novelist, critic and essayist Marcel Proust.
“We pay tribute to her in a beautiful piece with diamonds of more than 10 carats. It is currently on display in our Dubai Mall boutique and is one of the most valuable creations from the collection.”
Within each of the five sets, a miniature dancing figurine reflects the opulence and splendour of the relevant occasion – such as the diamond decor clip epitomising the Black & White Ball given by the writer Truman Capote in New York in 1966. Belloir believes the drama and beauty of those bygone eras will resonate with collectors and prospective buyers today.
“The collection is very true to the house with its love of ballet and the world of dance,” says Belloir. “And what makes balls successful is that they take us out of our ordinary lives. With these very extravagant parties, people were transported to another world, a place they could only dream about and live in for one night. So I think this collection is still very contemporary in its approach and it is also very true of the maison because we have always been a house of jewellery which reveals the world as it should be and not the world as it is.”
Bals de Légende featuring Le Bal du Palais d’Hiver, Le Bal du Siècle, Le Bal Black & White, Le Bal Oriental and Le Bal Proust is at Design Days Dubai from March 18 to 21. Visit Van Cleef & Arpels in Dubai Mall or call 04 339 8001 for more information
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