Van Cleef & Arpels Varuna bell push, Paris, ca. 1908, in ebony, enamel, jasper, yellow gold and silver -- commissioned by the American Eugene Higgins for his yacht -- from the VC&A Collection, in “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels” at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Versace may have whipped today’s fashionistas into a fever for silver zippers -- but Van Cleef & Arpels beat the designer to the punch more than 50 years ago, even ratcheting up the metal meshing motif with precious metals and gems. The 104-year-old Paris-based jewelry firm’s ingenious “Zip” necklace from ca. 1955 is but one highlight ofÂ “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels,” Feb. 18-June 5, 2011, at the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum up on East 91st Street and Fifth Avenue.