The Story of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Ballerinas

The Story of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Ballerinas

Before the 1967 premiere of the Jewels ballet in New York City, dancer Suzanne Farrell and legendary choreographer George Balanchine went to Van Cleef & Arpels to meet the press. Some journalists reported that Claude Arpels had suggested the idea of a ballet based on jewels to Mr. Balanchine. Other stories said the choreographer’s daily walks on Fifth Avenue by the Van Cleef & Arpels window- display of treasures ignited the idea for the ballet. However, the ballet in three acts— Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds—might very well have been inspired by Van Cleef & Arpels ballerina brooches. Some of the dancers made in Paris during the 1940s were daytime jewels rendered in gold with turquoise and ruby skirts and rose-cut diamond faces. More splashy formal designs were usually made in New York and created in rubies, emeralds, platinum and rose-cut diamonds. The quality that unites all Van Cleef & Arpels dancers are the rose-cut diamond faces.

Debbie Azar

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