A fabulous Art Deco ‘Un Cercle’ clip brooch by Van Cleef and Arpels c.1931, the brooch of open circular form set throughout with brilliant cut diamonds, embellished to each side with baguette diamonds and to the centre front with an angular geometric motif channel set with baguette and brilliant cut diamonds, the lower half with cut out details adding to the contrast between the curved and straight edges, all in platinum with a hinged opening, the top right quarter folding forwards to allow the brooch to be clipped in place. This is an iconic VCA design that has featured in books and exhibitions on the jewellery of this prestigious Maison. An archival advert for ‘Un Cercle’ shows how versatile the clip is, the clever mechanism allowing it to be pinned easily to hats, clothing and even an evening bag. Anywhere you need a touch of pure glamour, pin the ‘Circle’ and it is instantly elevated.
Van Cleef & Arpels
14 x baguette diamonds estimated to weigh a combined total of approximately 1.2cts
81 x brilliant cut diamonds estimated to weigh a combined total of approximately 6.4cts
Platinum signed Van Cleef & Arpels Paris Bte SGDC numbered and with workshop mark for Rubel Freres and French assay mark
4.9cm / 1.9” in diameter
0.5cm / 0.2” wide at narrowest point tapering to 1.1cm / 0.43” at widest point
Literature & Exhibitions
See ‘Set in Style – The Jewellery of Van Cleef & Arpels’, Sarah D. Coffin p.225 for an image of this brooch design alongside an archival advert for it.
The names of Jean and Robert Rubel are relatively unknown today but during the 1920s and 30s they ran one of the most important jewellery workshops in Paris. Responsible for creating many beautiful and iconic jewels of the period, predominantly for Van Cleef & Arpels, the firm was one of the ‘unsung heroes’ of French haute joaillerie in the first half of the 20th Century. Before emigrating from Hungary to France, the brothers had run a successful jewellery shop in their native Budapest. They settled in Paris and opened a workshop at 22 rue Vivienne, not far from the Place Vendôme, in 1915. They gradually built their business and reputation for fine quality craftsmanship and within ten years they were working for some of the most prestigious Parisian jewellers. One such client was Van Cleef & Arpels who began working with Rubel Frères sometime around 1923 and the two firms would go on to form a close working relationship that would last for twenty years. They remained in Paris, quietly creating their masterpieces for sale in the Place Vendome boutiques, until 1939. It was then that they were offered the opportunity to move to America where Van Cleef & Arpels had recently opened offices. The two brothers were asked to set up and supervise a workshop in New York which would make the Van Cleef jewellery to be sold there. They agreed and for the next four years they did exactly that during which time the now iconic ballerina and dancer brooches were conceived. In 1943 they parted ways with VCA and established themselves independently, opening John Rubel & Co. at 777 5th Avenue and began to create and sell their jewellery under their own name for the first time since leaving Hungary almost 30 years previously.