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Van Cleef & Arpels Mystery-Set Bouquet brooch, Paris, ca. 1937, with rubies, diamonds, platinum
Courtesy of a California collection
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by Brook S. Mason

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 of¬† “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.