A glimpse into the Van Cleef & Arpels Time, Nature, Love exhibition in Seoul

A glimpse into the Van Cleef & Arpels Time, Nature, Love exhibition in Seoul

A journey through artistry


By Sarah Hani Jamil

Photos are courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels

In a breathtaking and spectacular exhibition, ‘Van Cleef & Arpels: Time, Nature, Love’ unveils the world of High Jewellery, providing a captivating glimpse through the lens of the renowned Parisian Maison. Curated by the distinguished Italian scholar, curator and author Alba Cappellieri and crafted into an immersive experience by international designer-artist Johanna Grawunder, the exhibition originally debuted in Palazzo Reale, Milan in 2019, made a stop in Shanghai in 2023, and then travelled to Riyadh from January to April 2023. This round, spanning across two floors of the D Museum in Seoul, the exhibition is set to captivate visitors until April 14, 2024. Each iteration offers a different, unique and surprising experience, revealing diverse conversations between the pieces on display.

“The exhibition is dedicated to Time, Nature and Love, which are not just concepts, but values. Values in everyone’s lives, and those which belong to the Maison since its foundation in 1906,” says Cappeliari during a press conference on the exhibition’s launch day.

Featuring more than 300 jewellery, watches, precious objects and materials from the archives, signifying each time period, the exhibition provides a journey through the Maison’s rich history, from its establishment in 1906 to the present day, offering a comprehensive look into the artistry and craftsmanship that define Van Cleef & Arpels.


Why Seoul?

South Korea is renowned for its ability to seamlessly blend modernity with tradition. This union is evident across various aspects—with craftsmen, artists, designers, museums and more—making the country a unique landscape where the avant-garde coexists harmoniously with a deep respect for and reference to its rich past, in art, design and beyond.

“South Korea has been a really important market for Van Cleef & Arpels for 20 years now, and we’ve seen a strong development in terms of bridging the modern with the traditional. ‘Time, Nature, Love’ holds a specific significance for us because it’s an approach that truly gives a full view of the nearly 120 years of creations by VCA. It’s a very distinct curation—very poetic and extremely modern too. For me, it’s been one of the most successful and inspiring projects around the patrimony, and this is very much the reason why we wanted to bring it to Seoul,” says Nicolas Bos, CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels.

The very essence of a High Jewellery House like Van Cleef & Arpels lies in its connection to history and roots. It is distinctly a House that has been constructed over decades by families across generations, where the patrimony stands perhaps as the most crucial asset and source of inspiration. 

“We want to bring an opportunity for the widest possible audience to see these pieces and immerse themselves in the reality of our patrimony—not only through books, images or screens but also through physical jewels and objects. This is why this exhibition is so important to us,” added Bos.


From left: Frederic Rebelo, Johanna Grawunder, Nicolas Bos, Alba Cappellieri, Alexandrine Maviel‑Sonet and Nicolas Luchsinger


Section 1: Time


Van Cleef & Arpels’ The Zip Necklace


Van Cleef & Arpels’ jewellery and precious objects are deeply rooted in a distinct era, weaving subtle connections between Paris and the world. According to Cappellieri, the ‘Time’ section posed the greatest challenges, both conceptually and in selecting pieces. Drawing inspiration from Italian writer Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the Next Millennium, the Maison curated its pieces based on their relationship with time. Cappellieri introduced five additional values, with the first dedicated to Paris, marking the beginning of the Maison’s story. The subsequent values celebrate the concept of ‘Elsewhere’, showcasing the Maison’s timeless relevance and spirit. Then, intersections are explored, drawing from the past with influences from dance, fashion, and architecture. Here, look out for the Jarretière bracelet, owned by the late Hollywood actress Marlene Dietrich and showcased for the first time ever, alongside the House’s iconic Zip necklace.


Section 2: Nature


Van Cleef & Arpels’ Bird of Paradise brooch


As gemstones are gifts from nature itself, there are three rooms in the exhibition dedicated to botanica, fauna, and flora. In these spaces, the wonders of nature are interpreted through Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations, blossoming into exquisite jewellery pieces. A limitless source of inspiration for both art and jewellery, nature has generously provided the Maison with boundless creativity. Over its history, plants, flowers, and animals have given rise to a wealth of colours, patterns, and materials, spanning from precious gems to hard stones and more.


Section 3: Love


Van Cleef & Arpels’ the ‘Granny’ necklace


Regarded as the most powerful energy in the world by Cappilieri, love is the driving force behind the birth of the High Jewelry Maison, established in 1906 after the wedding of Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels in Paris. This section is specifically dedicated to some of the world’s renowned love stories. Approximately 30 pieces, including clips, rings, bracelets, objects, and more, are accompanied by sketches and archival documents. Keep an eye out for the Granny Necklace, a gift from Richard Burton to Elizabeth Taylor upon the occasion of becoming a grandmother in 1971.

See more from inside the exhibition here:



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For more information on the Van Cleef & Arpels: Time, Nature, Love exhibition, click here.

For more reads on watches and jewellery, click here.

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