Among all the amazing jewelry on the Oscars red carpet last night, Margot Robbie’s Zip Necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels stood out as something special. Not only was the piece stunning, but it has an epic origin story.
The Duchess of Windsor—who had many Van Cleef & Arpels pieces in her legendary jewelry collection—suggested the concept of a necklace that zipped to the French firm’s artistic director Renée Puissant (daughter of one of the principals Alfred Van Cleef) around 1938. It took more than 12 years to solve the technical challenges of making a zipper in gold, but solve them they did. The zipper on the jewel was fully functional, a device that also allowed it to be convertible. Unzipped it was a necklace, and zipped up it cold be worn as a bracelet.
Over the years Van Cleef & Arpels has made a very limited number of Zip jewels. The Zip Antique Colombine Robbie wore is very similar in style to the original owned by the Duchess of Windsor. It features 150-diamonds and 300-sapphires set in 18kt gold. Like all of Van Cleef’s Zip jewels it is convertible and can be worn as a bracelet (see picture below). The masterwork took craftsmen more than 600 hours to create, and we say it was certainly worth every second.