I had a strange sense of déjà vu when I toured the compelling Van Cleef & Arpels Palais de la chance collection at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts last week. As I strolled with Sybille Jammes, the Parisian maison’s delightful head of international public relations, I was sure that I had seen the sinuous art deco motifs in the collection’s astrologically inspired pieces before. Then it hit me – the gorgeous Zodiac pool at the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, home of His Highness Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwan-Jodhpur and the place where I spent this last New Year.
The dappled light from the underground cavern gave the 12 symbols of astrological fate embedded in the sapphire-coloured tiles around the Zodiac’s waters exactly the same sense of movement and magic as the Van Cleef pieces. Of course it helps that HV Lanchester, another Art Deco fanatic, designed the pool and every other aspect of the glorious Umaid Bhawan Palace. Palais de la chance is the most beautiful collection I have seen from Van Cleef & Arpels in recent years and a sure sign that creative director Nicolas Bos has not lost any of his magic powers since becoming President and CEO of the house as well.
I especially adored the Aquarius clip (pictured above) which has a sense of balletic movement and aquatic energy that makes it an example of high jewelry at its finest. Maybe the recent renovation of the house’s atelier on Place Vendôme has given a new energy to the craftsmen and women who make miniature miracles there. And here’s the cute kicker. Van Cleef & Arpels are celebrating Palais de la chance with a competition that invites diamond lovers to tell a story about a lucky moment and post it on the Days of Luck calendar. The author of the most successful lucky day will win an exclusive trip to Paris, and will be invited to a session at l’ECOLE Van Cleef & Arpels, Place Vendôme. This sounds like one for my friends in the jewelry department at the Hong Kong Design Institute. In the meantime I will dream about the luminous Étoile Filante clip, Ms. Jammes having told me that clips are now all the rage for gentlemen about town. How does the song go? “If you wish upon a star…”