Science, mineralogy, and jewels collide to astounding effect in a new exhibition by Van Cleef and Arpels in partnership with the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
The show, titled “Pierres Precieuses,” (Precious Stones), or “Gems,” was originally scheduled to open in the spring but was forced to postpone. Opened on September 16 and on view through June 2021, the exhibition features more than 300 pieces from the Van Cleef and Arpels archives, institutions, and private collections.
In collaboration with Van Cleef and Arpels, the “Precious Stones” exhibition immerses visitors in several fields which are closely connected and yet rarely brought together: mineralogy, gemology and the art of jewellery making.
Through a contemporary scenography, this exhibition brings together over 500 minerals, gems and objets d’art from the Natural History Museum’s collections and more than 200 gems and jewellery creations from the House of Van Cleef and Arpels. This unprecedented link between minerals, gems and jewellery, structures the tour, immersing visitors in the history of the earth, the processes of mineral formation and the latest scientific advances in geoscience. It also allows visitors to marvel at the most beautiful creations fashioned by humans and created from natural diversity.
Structured in three parts, the exhibition begins with Histories of the Earth, which explores the original formation of minerals and their use in society. The second section is perhaps the most fascinating: Minerals to Jewels, which offers insight into the natural phenomena that takes place in the depths of the earth and how it affects stones, rocks, and crystals. The transformation into jewellery is then revealed in 40 thoughtfully curated vignettes with diamonds, topazes, emeralds, aquamarines, and more presented side by side as raw minerals, cut gemstones, and high jewellery.
Finally, taking into account the storied French tradition of jewellery, the third section looks back on the historic, scientific, and artistic significance of Paris by spotlighting such talents as Jean Vendome, who was considered the founding father of contemporary jewellery.
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