In 1896, Esther Arpels, the daughter of Salomon Arpels, a dealer in precious stones, married Alfred Van Cleef, whose family were sheet merchants living in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. That same year, Alfred Van Cleef and Salomon Arpels had already established a company with the aim of “founding and running a jewellery business”. In 1906, they registered the “Van Cleef & Arpels” trademark and opened a boutique at 22 place Vendôme. They were soon joined by Esther’s brothers, Salomon, Jules and Louis Arpels. Alfred Van Cleef died in 1938, leaving his daughter, Renée Rachel Puissant, behind him. From 1909 to 1939, Van Cleef & Arpels prospered and opened boutiques in holiday resorts such as Deauville, Le Touquet, Nice and Monte-Carlo.
Progressively, the second generation joined the business. In 1942, the Arpels family emigrated to America and opened their first boutique in New York, on 5th Avenue. Later, Van Cleef & Arpels became the first French jewellers to open boutiques in Japan and China. Over the years, the firm was always managed by a descendant of the Arpels family, until it was acquired by the Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A. in 1999. The company’s prestige stems from a long list of prominent commissions issued by royal and imperial courts, financiers and industrial magnates, which have enabled Van Cleef & Arpels to be active today not only in Europe and the United States, but also in Asia and the Middle East.