A Jewel-Encrusted Ring That Conjures the Spirit of a Black Forest Wedding

A 1930s postcard depicting a Schäppel, a traditional German crown.Credit…Imago/Arkivi
The new Van Cleef & Arpels Schäppel ring, inspired by the headpiece and the house’s own vibrant archives. Price on request,…Still life by Sharon Radisch. Set design by Victoria Petro-Conroy

One senses that the establishment of Van Cleef & Arpels was preordained. The husband and wife Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels — the son of a diamond cutter and the daughter of a gemstone dealer — opened the French maison in 1906 in Paris’s First Arrondissement, where they began making wristwatches and jewelry adorned with wood and gems inspired by good luck charms. During the following decades, the brand continued to innovate — inventing the minaudière and creating necklaces that could be worn as bracelets — and in 1933 it introduced the Mystery Setting, in which stones appeared to be invisibly placed without any of their metal fasteners showing. Whimsical designs, which gained a loyal following from the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco and Elizabeth Taylor, took cues from the cosmos, flora and fauna, mythology, poetry, ballet, fairy tales, architecture and Surrealism. In the 1940s and ’50s, Van Cleef & Arpels introduced a collection of dome-like gold rings covered in kaleidoscopic arrays of multicolored jewels.

Now, one of the house’s latest creations reinterprets those playful archival pieces as well as the Schäppel, an ornate bridal crown — often worn during folk ceremonies in the Black Forest, a mountainous area in southwest Germany — hand-embroidered with pearls, tinsel, glass balls, mirrors and paper flowers. The new rose- and white-gold ring’s 3.28-carat cushion-cut ruby is encircled by dazzling emeralds, pink and yellow sapphires, diamonds and spessartite garnets. Its rounded silhouette recalls the Schäppel’s shape, and the buff-topped stones of varying sizes add a three-dimensional mosaic effect. Full of vibrant color, it’s an exuberant nod to the brand’s simpler beginnings.

Photo assistant: Christopher Thomas Linn

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