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Van Cleef & Arpels affirms relationship with Russia via ballet jewels

February 3, 2014


French jeweler Van Cleef & Arpels is highlighting an artistic relationship with Russia by expanding its high-jewelry collection Ballet Précieux to include pieces inspired by five Russian ballets.

The collection of 29 pieces will be available in Russia only for a period of time before being on display in Van Cleef & Arpels’ boutiques elsewhere in the world. As the global community gears up for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Van Cleef & Arpels will spread awareness to affluent consumers visiting the region in a culturally-rooted way.

"For a long time, Van Cleef & Arpels has been close to Russia," said Jean Bienaymé, international director of marketing and communications at Van Cleef & Arpels, Paris. "Almost 50 years ago, an artistic partnership between the maison and the well-known Russian-born choreographer George Balanchine gave rise to the 'Jewels' ballet.

"In May 2012, a new production of this ballet, featuring original sets and costumes, was staged at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow with the maison’s support," he said.

"Today, the enchanting imagination of Van Cleef & Arpels encounters again the wonders of Russian culture: a new chapter of the collection Ballet Précieux, dedicated to five ballets from the Russian repertoire, highlights the links that the Maison weaved with Russia and the world of dance of this country."

Dancer’s delight
Van Cleef & Arpels drew inspiration from five world famous Russian ballets to add to its already established Ballet Précieux collection that began as a creative partnership between the jeweler and Mr. Balanchine in 1967. The additions were inspired by “Swan Lake,” “La Bayadère,” “The Nutcracker,” “Le Poisson doré” and “The Rite of Spring.”

The jeweler used its Facebook to generate interest in the high-jewelry collection before the Russian-inspired pieces were unveiled. To coincide with Van Cleef & Arpels’ Fifth Avenue flagship reopening in New York, the jeweler posted a photo of Mr. Balanchine, a piece from the Ballet Précieux and copy concerning their working relationship.

Van Cleef & Arpels' Facebook post

As global attention shifted to the Olympics, Van Cleef & Arpels rejuvenated its campaign on Facebook. The second wave of posts is more targeted and relevant to the Russian ballet-inspired pieces.

Van Cleef & Arpels accompanies photograph posts of its pieces with a link that lands on the jeweler’s Web site. Once loaded, the consumer can explore highlights from the Russian pieces of the Ballet Précieux collection.

Ballet Précieux post

The Web site’s dedicated page for the Russian aspects of the Ballet Précieux collection begins with an introduction citing that pieces are a “tribute to dance, grace and movement” and is a compilation of the “wonders of Russian culture” with the “enchanting imagination of Van Cleef & Arpels.”

In the following slides, various pieces from the collection are shown. Below the photograph is an overview of the ballet’s story and the techniques used by Van Cleef & Arpels to bring the character or theme alive.

Introduction to the collection on the Van Cleef & Arpels' Web site

The collection includes a Swan Lake ballerina clip fashioned from diamonds and black spinels, a bracelet symbolizing bravery in the ballet La Bayadère made from Mandarin garnet beads and a blue-green tourmaline stone and a fairy-like ballerina from The Nutcracker made with three types of gold.

Van Cleef & Arpels incorporated its technology in many pieces such as The Nutcracker Christmas Eve bracelet. The bracelet features rows of white and yellow diamonds and rubies set in the jeweler’s patented Mystery Set developed in the 1930s.

Mystery Set used in the Christmas Eve bracelet inspired by The Nutcracker

The collection includes various precious stones such as pink and blue sapphires, tsavorite garnets, tourmalines, aquamarines and pearls. Van Cleef & Arpels’ collection features various clips, rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings all inspired by various aspects of the five Russian ballets.

Cultural expressions
Jewelers often look outward to find inspiration for pieces that explore aspects of brand history.

For example, French jeweler Cartier explored its high-jewelry collection through an immersive social video that takes enthusiasts on an animated adventure meant to symbolize the brand’s creative journey.

While viewing the video for “Odyssée de Cartier – Parcours d’un Style,” consumers traverse different elements of Cartier’s history and encounter many of its inspirations (see story).

While a strong heritage is vital for luxury brands, an emphasis must also be placed on the future.

For instance, Switzerland’s Jaeger-LeCoultre is continuing its anniversary celebrations with a heritage video narrated by actor Clive Owen that takes enthusiasts inside the watchmaker’s factory in the Swiss city of Vallee de Joux.

The social video emphasizes the watchmaker’s 180-year history and the innovations made by founder Antoine LeCoultre throughout his career (see story).

Although regionally-inspired, the collection gives consumers a strong sense of Van Cleef & Arpels' values and creative process.

"The maison celebrates grace and movement of dance that bring life to magical stories through unique creations," Mr. Bienaymé said.

"This theme takes part in conveying the uniqueness of Van Cleef & Arpels that seems to lie in timelessness, elegance and femininity," she said.

Final Take

Jen King, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York