In Paris, Gems, Flowers and Really Big Photos


PARIS — This fall, a bejeweled garden is getting ready to blossom on the Place Vendôme.

“Florae,” a free exhibition organized by Van Cleef & Arpels, was conceived as a celebration of flowers, both natural and man-made. It features the blooms the high jewelry house renders in precious metal and gemstones alongside those the Japanese photographer Mika Ninagawa has captured in images.

Ms. Ninagawa was commissioned to create photos for the show, scheduled to open at the Hôtel d’Evreux on Sept. 10 and run through Nov. 14. She previously collaborated with the house for the 2017 exhibition “Enchanting Nature,” held in Tokyo.

In the Paris display, 100 jewels — 85 from the archives and 15 from contemporary lines — and 13 original design sketches will trace the evolution of floral themes at the house over the past century.

Art Deco-era highlights include a supple bracelet of intertwined red and white stylized roses in platinum, rubies, emeralds, onyx and diamonds, a piece that won the Grand Prize at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris.

More recent one-of-a-kind creations include the Folie des Prés bracelet, a wildflower garland in white gold and diamonds from the 2003 “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” high jewelry collection. The Dahlia Secrète watch in rose, white and yellow gold, presented in 2019, features articulated conical petals individually set with pink or purple sapphires, spessartite garnets and diamonds, with a diamond of almost 1.6 carats covering its dial. The house said the watch took more than 1,100 hours to make.

The exhibition’s staging — which includes illuminated walls displaying Ms. Ninagawa’s highly colored floral compositions in macro detail — was developed by Tsuyoshi Tane, the founder of the Paris-based Atelier Tsuyoshi Tane Architects.

Though this is his first high jewelry installation, it seems to offer a preview of another highly anticipated project: a 4,300-square-foot display space at the newly renovated Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde for 6,000 pieces from the Al Thani jewelry collection, on loan for 20 years. That space is scheduled to open this fall.

In conjunction with the “Florae” exhibition, L’École — the Van Cleef & Arpels school of jewelry arts — has scheduled online conversations about floral jewelry. The English versions will be on the secret language of flowers, Sept. 23, and on the accuracy of floral representations in jewelry, Oct. 21. Both are free but require registration at leecolevancleefarpels.com.

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