In the 1930s, the Duchess of Windsor approached jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels for a little something to match the new-fangled, modern fasteners that were appearing in her gowns.
Patents were struck in the 30s for a method to create a zipper from precious metals—a jewel that could be both a necklace or a bracelet—but the first Van Cleef & Arpels Zip necklace wasn’t created until 1950.
Since then, and perhaps because so few were made, the style has become a Van Cleef & Arpels icon. Last month, at Christie’s Paris auction, a Van Cleef zip necklace sold for euro 819,000.
The piece featured 18k yellow gold and platinum with 16.5–20.5 cts. t.w. rubies and 5.5–6.5 cts. t.w. diamonds.