The zipper was invented in the 19th century in the United States. Originally made to quickly close boots and other garments for sailors and aviators, this sliding mechanism has found another meaning for Van Cleef & Arpels’s creation. This story begins in 1938, whispered to creative director Renée Puissant by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson. She immediately conceived a composition of diamonds on platinum, but the concrete final result would depend on the patience and tenacity of their workshops.
After 13 years of work, Van Cleef & Arpels finally sold the very first style of Zip, an adaptable chameleon piece that could be worn open around the neck or closed around the wrist, in 1951. Their workshops took care to make the object flexible in order to guarantee that it would fall perfectly, tracing the fluidity of female movement with an infallible grace. Released in a long or a shorter version, this keystone piece is still the brand’s pride and joy today. Whether worn open or closed, the Zip is an exceptional alliance of prowesses both technical and artistic.
Taking off from a purely functional object, meant to be hidden, Van Cleef & Arpels has reworked the tool to bring out an exceptional jewel, a timelessly stylish piece. The Zip ties couture and fine jewelry together, mastering fine and precious metals and stones with a jeweler’s savoir-faire. Its two gold ribbons embroidered with small hooks come together to transform into a bracelet… While Zip necklaces were once dressed with yellow gold, diamonds, and ribbons of rubies or emeralds, today they are getting a modern twist by piling on a multitude of different colored sapphires, lapis lazuli, pearls, or white nacre along with turquoise and chrysoprase… Whatever the gems that adorn it, the Zip is a marvelous piece and a complexity of wild charm.