FAIRY TALES ARE MADE OF THESE
A glimpse of Princess Grace Kelly’s Van Cleef & Arpels’ wedding jewellery
AS CALIFORNIA-BORN ACTRESS MEGHAN MARKLE’S WEDDING TO PRINCE HARRY OF BRITAIN GRABBED HEADLINES AROUND THE WORLD, it is worth casting our eyes back to 1956, the year American Hollywood actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III of Monaco. It was the original modern fairy tale wedding: the darling of the 1950’s silver screen and apple of Alfred Hitchcock’s eye, giving up her illustrious career, and after a blinding three-week romance, tying the royal knot to become the princess of her own little principality in Europe.
Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, Stock image courtesy of Pixabay.com
“Grace Kelly gave up her Hollywood career, and after a three-week romance, married Prince Rainier of Monaco”
And while Meghan has had her impact on fashion, Princess Grace has left her enduring legacy. Amongst these is the legendary eponymous Kelly bag by Hermès, and pieces by some of the world’s most renowned jewellers, especially the ones connected with her momentous wedding. The princess was known for her simple and classic style, and favoured pearl and diamond creations. Van Cleef & Arpels was one of her favourite jewellers.
Three-strand pearl and diamond necklace and diamond and pearl earrings, which are part of Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco’s wedding set, VAN CLEEF & ARPELS, Photos by Patrick Gries for Van Cleef & Arpels
“Grace Kelly’s wedding set consisted of a diamond and three-strand pearl necklace and bracelet, and matching earrings and ring, created between 1953 and 1956 by Van Cleef & Arpels”
Founded in 1906 at 22 Place Vendome in Paris, Maison Van Cleef & Arpels had a storied reputation for impeccable workmanship embodied in its Mains d’Or in the Place Vendome workshops. A few months before the wedding, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly went to the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in New York, where they were personally welcomed by Louis Arpels. Arpels convinced the prince that the elegance of pearls would be the perfect complement to the delicate beauty of his bride-to-be. The eventual wedding set consisted of a diamond and three-strand pearl necklace and bracelet, as well as matching earrings and ring, created between 1953 and 1956.
Diamond and pearl bracelet and ring, which are part of Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco’s wedding set, VAN CLEEF & ARPELS, Photos by Patrick Gries for Van Cleef & Arpels
Following the gift of her wedding set, Princess Grace’s relationship with Van Cleef & Arpels lasted throughout her life. Just a few months after, the jeweller was named the ‘Official Supplier to the Principality of Monaco’. The princess frequently shopped at the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in Monaco, buying a flower brooch made of diamonds and sapphires, which she was often pictured wearing.
She was also charmed by the La Boutique, which first debuted in 1954 at the newly opened boutique on Place Vendôme in Paris. She collected many of the designs, including the famous Lion Ebouriffé clip. This playful collection, which was intended to attract a broader and younger clientele, found an unexpected following amongst the Monegasque and American royalty.
In 1976, Princess Grace commissioned Van Cleef & Arpels to design a sumptuous tiara in platinum set with round, marquise and pear-shaped diamonds, totalling 140 stones and weighing 77.34 carats. She wore it to the wedding of her daughter Princess Caroline of Monaco to Philippe Junot in 1978 — marking Van Cleef & Arpels’ participation in yet another romantic royal engagement. Today this dazzling piece is in Van Cleef & Arpels’ Private Collection.