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An Interview with Nicolas Bos from Van Cleef & Arpels


In the often intersecting worlds of High-Jewellery and architecture, craftsmen and engineers make Palaces of infinite complexities whether its on a delicate chandelier earring, or on the steel frames of a towering skyscraper. Creating Imaginary Palaces that have the astounding ability to transform, be it a woman’s décolletage or a city skyline.

With over 12 years at the prestigious maison, there is no one else who better understands the unique spirit of Van Cleef & Arpels than Nicolas Bos. He introduced the concept of Poetic Complications, that has now become a cornerstone watch model, seamlessly integrating technical innovation and the poetry of time-telling.

We met the enigmatic Nicolas Bos as he fondly discusses the similarities between High-Jewellery and architecture, speaking to us about Van Cleef & Arpels’ latest collection, Émeraude en Majesté. An ode to the majesty of the emerald, with over 1400 carats of emeralds in the High-Jewellery Collection. We also discuss his personal philosophies, the special spirit of Van Cleef and Arpels, and finally, what it takes to create a timeless piece of high-jewellery.

Could you tell us a little bit about your background? How did you enter the world of High Jewellery?
I began working for the Richemont group within Cartier’s private art museum in Paris in 1992.
Following a decade at the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, I moved from the creative side of the business into various business functions; such as retail and commercial positions at Van Cleef & Arpels including International Marketing Manager, Creative Director, and VP.
I took on the role of CEO after 12 years within the Maison.  I was always drawn to the arts and culture, so when I discovered the world of jewellery at Van Cleef & Arpels, I fell in love with it.

 How would you describe Van Cleef & Arpels? What makes it unique from other High Jewellery Maisons?
As a reference in the world of High Jewellery and High watchmaking, the Maison stands out through a recognisable signature style — treatment of the movement, asymmetry or transformability, and very unique sources of inspiration that are nature, poetry, ballet and imaginary worlds. Van Cleef and Arpels is also remarkable for its innovative techniques, the exceptional quality of stones and the virtuoso craftsmanship of its Mains d’Or (golden hands). Together, these features give birth to the uniqueness of the Maison.

What is your personal philosophy? How does this philosophy translate into your role as President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels?
Here also, there is no miracle recipe. I believe in hard work, the permanent search for excellence, the absence of compromise…and above all, team work and common sense!

What does it take to create a timeless piece of jewellery?
The Maison’s excellence has given birth to iconic creations and exceptional techniques: Mystery Set™, Zip necklaces, Poetic Complications®, watches and so on. That being said, there is no recipe to create an iconic or a timeless design. The designs I mentioned are bold, avant-garde and integrating innovation in the craftsmanship. Afterwards, it is only time and amateurs that decide to turn them into icons; and Van Cleef & Arpels is proud to have a few of these icons in the world of jewellery.

In your discussion at Masterpiece Fair London, you spoke a lot about the similarities of Jewellery Design and Architecture, could you elaborate on the relationship between the two?
Beyond the precious nature and rare value inherent in Jewellery making, there are time honoured and considered processes which are strikingly similar to the creation of architecture. The shared considerations of form, function, and beauty; and the requisite skills of excellence in technique, materials, process, and the expression of these skills in the finished piece of jewellery or in a building.

Could you tell us a little bit about the Émeraude en Majesté Collection? Where did you get the inspiration for this collection?
The beauty of this gem has inspired Van Cleef & Arpels for its creations since the beginning of the Maison. This stone expresses a special emotion; its gardens are evocative of dreams and poetry, but also character and power. Also, since most of our creations are inspired by Nature which colour better than green could express it?

Finally, what can we expect from you and Van Cleef & Arpels in 2017? Any exciting new projects or collaborations?
This fall we are introducing another High Jewellery collection inspired by Noah's Ark. And we are collaborating with Bob Wilson, the renowned artist and designer, for its presentation in Paris. Then Van Cleef & Arpels will be at the SIHH in Geneva in January to present its new collection of timepieces and jewels that tell time. For the rest of 2017, let’s keep a bit of surprise and magic!


Inteview by Hannah Tan 

Van Cleef & Arpels