Wednesday, May 15, 2024
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What a New Jewelry Exhibit Will Teach You About Mother Nature

Forty-four Van Cleef & Arpels jewels, some never before seen in the United States, are on view at the American Museum of Natural History beginning June 10.

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When you are looking at a malachite Van Cleef & Arpels butterfly brooch at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, sometimes all you can think about is what would happen if it came crashing down against the gallery floor. “Do you realize how much malachite they had to cut to get those wings as delicate as that?” a jewelry expert next to you might say.

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Stone properties are major points of conversation in these halls (malachite is a 3 or 4 on the Moh’s Hardness scale, diamonds a 10), where visitors are surrounded by so many natural wonders—like a 3000-pound block of labradorite or two towering amethyst geodes or all those spodumene crystals. The stone remains supreme even when confronted with the virtuosity of design present in the jewel box of an exhibit, Garden of Green: Exquisite Jewelry from the Collection of Van Cleef & Arpels, opening June 10 (and on through January 2024).

Visitors to the Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery in the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals (which re-opened after an extensive renovation in 2021 after a pandemic-induced delay) will marvel at the 44 pieces of green jewels—including emeralds, malachite, jade, and peridot—showcased in the vitrines, and will note that 32 of them will be on view in the U.S. for the first time. They will also learn of the lush variety of verdant stones available to Van Cleef’s master artisans. In addition to the green stones mentioned above, there are Van Cleef & Arpels designs crafted from chrysoprase and green chalcedony on exhibit.

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