I n 1906 Van Cleef & Arpels launched with a collection of jewels that are still sparkling today. Now, Alessandro Maffi, the Managing Director Van Cleef & Arpels Middle East & India, opens the vault of the luxury label inside Design Days Dubai to give Buro 24/7 Middle East an exclusive sneak peek at the must-see gems on show...

We're at Design Days Dubai again! Tell me about your exhibition this year.

Van Cleef & Arpels is always about nature, love and fairytales and this year it's our 110th anniversary. Since 1906, nature has been our main theme. We have the heritage collection, where you see leaves and flowers, which continues through to 2016, where you have amazing inspiration from India and butterflies, which are created with beautiful stones from all over the world.

Going back to the heritage collection, how old are some of the pieces?

There's a piece from 1926! It's a clip made out of rubies. Then throughout the years, we've had some amazing pieces, one of which has been revealed at Design Days Dubai. It's a little jewellery box filled with a minature watch, lipstick, mirror and a comb. It really is a piece of art. The craftsmanship in Paris, which is where it was made, took one year.

Van Cleef & Arpels box

A year is a long time, for a little box...

It's not just a box, it's a box made from gold. There are little bars, which have to be matched perfectly, so everything is crafted in a special way. The watchmaker also makes the little watch to fit inside. It is fantastic.

The Seven Seas collection is also on display?

Yes and it's essence of nature. In the sea you have amazing fish, amazing turtles, amazing fairies of the sea, the ones that nobody can see (laughs). Everything is made with the colour of the sea in mind, which is very relaxing. There's a connect between the stones, which is seen in the gradation of blue, going from the surface, which is an emerald green, to the depth, with a deep blue sapphire. But as you can see and as you know, Van Cleef & Arpels is not only about the stones, it is about the creativity. Every piece has to have a talking point.

Which piece tells your favourite story?

There's a beautiful pink sapphire necklace, which is inspired by India. The work of art is very detailed, and the way the necklace sits on the neck is just amazing. It reminds me of the Indian spirit, the maharaja, the prince and princesses who just standing with their jewellery and stones. It's not excessive, it's very delicate.

What are the must-see pieces at this year's Design Days Dubai?

There is a beautiful necklace in ruby, The Oriental Princess. We are talking about thousands of different diamonds. The diamond are not very important, it's the rubies because it's very difficult to find many rubies of the exact same colour. What's more is we have a flawless oval shaped diamond in the centre. A stone like this, and we're talking around 80 carats, is very rare to find. 

Van Cleef & Arpels Oriental Princess necklace

As an established fine jewellery house, you're working towards enabling a new generation of designers with the Emergent Designer Prize. Tell us about that...

This year the winner created a beautiful jellyfish chandelier. We were very happy that someone from the Middle East won the prize this year. She is an amazing artist, an amazing person and she's young. This year we had over 50 participants who presented their projects from all over the world, and we were able to select four. We look forward to next year, as well as one day, seeing one of these winners thanking Van Cleef & Arpels for giving them that one shot.