Managing Director Hugues de Pins Speaks About Van Cleef & Arpels’ Mission, Inspiration, and Craftsmanship

Known as the bread and butter of the jewellery industry, any connoisseur would know Parisian Maison, Van Cleef & Arpels. Synonymous with some of the finest high jeweller collections, the Maison has made a name for itself in the industry with their beautiful craftsmanship and creations.

As they celebrated the release of their high jewellery collection in Asia, BAZAAR had the opportunity to talk to Hugues de Pins, the Managing Director of Van Cleef & Arpels, South East Asia & Oceania in Bangkok, Thailand. Hugues de Pins took the time to speak to us about the creativity and history of the Maison from 1906 until today.
Hugues De Pin

Here’s what Hugues de Pins spoke to us about:

How does Van Cleef & Arpels continue to push the boundaries of high jewellery and keep up with trends?

Van Cleef & Arpels is committed to continuously creating beautiful pieces every year with a heavy focus on the high jewellery segment, which is, part of our DNA. Born in France in 1906, we’ve always been a high jewellery Maison. And, we push the boundaries with our craftsmanship with our creativity, ambitions, and transmission. Those three values are what keep our will alive to continue with our creations.

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We’re always keeping an eye on the past and an eye on the future. We have inherited beautiful artistic heritage throughout the years, so we’re always looking back to see where we can reimagine those stunning pieces and influence our new creations. But, we’re also focusing on the future by getting inspiration from the newer generations because of how savvy, educated and passionate they are about jewellery.

On top of that, we’re also pushing the boundaries by proving a landscape to help people learn more about craftsmanship, the quality of the stones, the techniques, and the history of jewellery. The Maison is putting all their efforts now into L’Ecole, the School of Jewellery Arts to help educate clients, fanatics, and more.

If you could name only one piece from the archives as a favourite, what would it be?

The Zip necklace is an instant favourite for me because of its history, creativity, and its showcase of the Maison pushing the boundaries. The iconic idea was sparked by a suggestion from the Duchess of Windsor, who was fascinated by zips. With the assistance of jewellery designer René-Sim Lacaze, the Maison began crafting the exceptionally versatile creation that can be worn in two ways – as a necklace and as a bracelet –showcasing its adaptability.

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It’s a beautiful, elegant necklace that doesn’t take itself too seriously and since 1950 it’s been one of the most appreciated designs. So, with that in mind, we’ve created unique versions of it throughout the years with different aesthetics, stones, and patterns.

If you had to choose the top three defining moments for the brand, what would they be?

The first defining moment would be the love story between Estelle Arpels, daughter of a dealer in precious stones, and Alfred Van Cleef, son of a lapidary. Their love story and history as well as expertise in the world of precious stones is what created the Maison of Van Cleef & Arpels in 1906. Their relationship was an important showcase of jewellery being an act of love.

The second would be when Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef’s daughter, Renée Puissant became Artistic Director of the Maison in 1926. With an immense amount of imagination, she revolutionised the Maison with her jewellery designs, where she reintroduced decorative elements, colourful precious stones, and distinctive recognisable styles.

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The last defining moment would be the Maison under Nicolas Bos, the CEO and Artistic Director leadership. His vision for the Maison was to educate the public about the art of jewellery, techniques, and craftsmanship with the help of L’Ecole. And, since its launch of it 10 years ago, it has since been an important aspect for Van Cleef & Arpels.

What is your vision for the future of the jewellery house?

hugues de pins

What do you hope to achieve that you have not yet done at Van Cleef & Arpels?

A few years ago we launched a high jewellery collection dedicated to emeralds known as Emeraude en majesté. It was then followed by the Treasure of Rubies and Legend of Diamonds where we honoured the precious stones. Moving forward, it’d be incredible to see a high jewellery collection devoted to sapphires.

Discover more about the Maison and Hugues de pins at

A lover of steamy romance books and all things green, Syameen Salehaldin is the Senior Content Producer for Harper's BAZAAR Malaysia. She spends most of her time immersed in books, and food and doing anything that makes her happy. Expect to see her diving into lifestyle, fashion and beauty trends on this platform.