Short Research Paper on Craft

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Probably in any country of the world there will not be as many museums and art galleries as in Italy. However, one museum is particularly significant – it is the first jewelry museum in Europe located in the city of Vicenza near Venice. Vicenza is famous as the world capital of gold and jewels (Golding & Modest, 2013). To emphasize the significance of the region as one of the world’s centers of jewelry, a fascinating museum was established (Golding & Modest, 2013). It is designed not as a boring storage of dusty antiquities but as a living reflection of the role that jewelry plays in people’s lives. Exhibits for this museum were selected by art historians and designers. One of the most expensive and well-known exhibits of the museum is the necklace Zip created by the jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels. This necklace can rightly be considered as the main world achievement in the niche of jewelry couture because, in addition to perfect harmony of art and craftsmanship, it is functional and technologically complex.

Despite the fact that many museums around the world have jewelries in their expositions, this necklace is unique. The idea of creation of this jewel that revealed new facets of jewelers’ talent belongs to the Duchess of Windsor. During the conversation with Alfred Van Cleef’s daughter and the creative director of Van Cleef & Arpels, Renée Puissant, in the late 1930s the Duchess of Windsor shared an idea to create an original piece of jewelry (Sebba, 2012). The fact is that, in 1913, the American inventor Gideon Sundback created and patented a technology for producing zippers, which immediately became extremely popular (King, 2011). Zippers reached European countries after World War I and they were adopted by the most progressive manufacturers of fashionable accessories and clothes (King, 2011). As a client of Van Cleef & Arpels, the Duchess proposed Renée Puissant to create an avant-garde clasp of precious materials (King, 2011). The sketch of the necklace was made in 1938. Nonetheless, it took around fifteen years to bring it to life (King, 2011). In 1950, the Zip necklace was made, in which workers of the jewelry house combined traditions of the house and the engineering invention. In my opinion, the Zip necklace is perfect since it does not contain any imperfections. From the technical point of view, this outstanding jewelry piece immediately received a status of the cult creation.

It is difficult to trace the relation between the democratic zipper that was invented in the United States at the end of the XIX century and used in boots with the world of luxury and sophistication. In spite of the modest origins, the zipper became the basis for the creation of one of the most prominent jewelries of Van Cleef & Arpels. This necklace represents a real zipper made of yellow gold that is decorated with a diamond pavé and a gold pompon on the clasp (Hoffmann & Coste-Maniere, 2012). A technical trick consists in the fact that it is a real working zipper and thus the necklace could be fastened and unbuttoned or completely buttoned, thus turning it into the bracelet. As such, this transformation has a functional character. The construction of the necklace works with the help of convex and concave shapes connected by a mobile clasp. The necklace remains flexible fitting perfectly on the neckline. When all elements of the construction are assembled, jewelers proceed to its decoration with precious stones. It is a highly complicated craft from the technical point of view, what makes this craft special (Sicard, 2013). Social history of this type of the object consists in the fact that having a zipper form, the necklace, in which a usual household item has found a totally new application, conjoins irony and refinement. In addition, it marked the beginning of the collection of multifunctional jewelry.

This object would look very different if it began to be created for mass production. It is mainly connected with the fact that the necklace is extremely expensive. It is a wonderful jewel made of yellow gold encrusted with rare diamonds. Therefore, such an expensive object cannot be manufactured for mass production. Otherwise, it is necessary to modify the necklace to make it more accessible to people. In this case, the process of production would also be different as it took many years of hard work to make the original jewelry piece. Nonetheless, the Zip necklace that was created for the Duchess of Windsor caused a real sensation in the secular society of that time. Thus, the jewelry house launched a collection of similar necklaces, which are made only in a few copies nowadays.

It is unlikely that any other piece of jewelry could be an equally vivid example of perfect harmony between craftsmanship, art, creative imagination, technology, beauty, and poetry like the Zip necklace. It was made according to the sketch of the Duchess of Windsor by the jewelers from Van Cleef & Arpels. This necklace carries a special idea – beauty expressed through the functionality of the object. The extraordinary decoration has become an icon of this jewelry house. The Zip necklace represents a technical power of Van Cleef & Arpels because it has no analogues in the world. When the zip is closed, it is a bracelet and when it is open, it is a spectacular necklace.

References

Golding, V., & Modest, W. (2013). Museums and communities: Curators, collections and collaboration. New York, NY: A&C Black.

Hoffmann, J., & Coste-Maniere, I. (2012). Luxury strategy in action. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

King, G. (2011). The Duchess of Windsor: The uncommon life of Wallis Simpson. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp.

Sebba, A. (2012). That woman: The life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sicard, M. (2013). Luxury, lies and marketing: Shattering the illusions of the luxury brand. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.