Jewellery

The best vintage jewellery advertising

A diamond is forever, so they say, and so are many of the best vintage jewellery adverts. Here, we round up the chicest that have stood the test of time and take a peek at the history hidden behind the images of Cartier, Bulgari, Boucheron, Van Cleef & Arpels and Tiffany & Co.

By Kim Parker

Cartier

A vintage advert for Cartier’s Love bracelet, designed by Aldo Cipullo for Cartier. Credit: Cartier New York, circa 1970

There can be few pieces of jewellery as instantly recognisable as Cartier’s Love bracelet. Conceived by the designer Aldo Cipullo for Cartier New York in 1969, it was created out of Cipullo’s fascination with the theme of hardware (he later created the brand’s iconic Clou nail jewellery) and of his desire to create a permanent symbol of love, “something that no one could take away from me,” he said at the time.

In creating the unisex, day-to-night design which could be worn by anyone, Cipullo not only reworked the concept of sentimental ‘love token’ jewellery, which had been hugely popular since the Victorian era – he revolutionised the way people wore jewellery in the 20th Century altogether. The bracelet came with its own tiny screwdriver, to help fasten (or unfasten) the bangle and was intended as a visual token of love for the modern age (apparently, Cipullo hoped it would eventually replace traditional engagement or wedding rings altogether). Worn by everyone from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton (who were rumoured to be amongst the celebrity couples who were gifted Love bracelets when it first launched), to Ali McGraw, Steve McQueen and Tina Turner, this sleek bangle has set hearts aflutter for over five decades, and will no doubt continue to do so for many more.

Bulgari

Bulgari’s Dream campaign from the 1980s. Image by Jean-François Schlemmer, courtesy of Bulgari

The Roman house of Bulgari has never been one to shy away from creating an impact. This image for its campaign, ‘The Dream’, from the 1980s was inspired by the surrealist works of René Magritte, the Belgian painter whose witty, thought-provoking work helped to shape the Pop, Minimalist and Conceptual art movements. Lensed by Jean-François Schlemmer, ‘The Dream’ incorporates the serene blue sky and fluffy white clouds referenced in many of Magritte’s paintings such as ‘Galatée’, ‘The False Mirror’ and his ‘Empire of Light’ series, as well as the oversized lettering of Bulgari’s logo. This year, these images have provided the inspiration for Bulgari’s latest campaign. Entitled ‘Unexpected Wonders’, it makes use of similar bold lettering on a white, brightly lit background as Schlemmer’s original photograph.

Boucheron

Boucheron Advert
An advert for Boucheron in the 1980s featuring Wladimir, the Maison’s cat. Image courtesy of Boucheron

Long before cats became an enormous Insta-draw, the Parisian jeweller Boucheron had Wladimir, its resident feline mascot. Photographed here in the 1980s wearing the Maison’s diamond and sapphire Collier Fleurs necklace, the cat was originally adopted by Gérard Boucheron (whose father, Frédéric, founded Boucheron in 1858) and moved into the brand’s storied boutique at 26, Place Vendôme. Whilst there, he pawed his way into several advertising campaigns in the late 1970s and 1980s. Since then, Wladimir’s likeness has graced many jewel-encrusted creations, including high jewellery necklaces and rings.

Van Cleef & Arpels

Advert for Van Cleef & Arpels, November 1960 (C) Publicis Conseil / Jean Coquin. Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels archives

With an emphasis on Van Cleef & Arpel’s dedication to craftmanship, this advert from late 1960 highlights one of the maison’s Mains d’Or (“hands of gold”), its workshop artisans (including jewellers, setters, lapidaries and polishers) who perfect each dazzling creation over hundred of working hours. In its centre is a spectacular necklace that makes use of Van Cleef & Arpels’ signature gem-setting technique, the Mystery Setting.

Trademarked by the Maison in the 1930s, the Mystery Setting is so called because its rows of gemstones appear to have no visible metal clasps. Instead of pressing gold over the stones to hold them in place, the fluid lines are created by digging subtle grooves into the bottom of each gem, so they can be slid onto a metal structure, like a train track, and are held from beneath. This process requires enormous skill and stones that are consistently uniform in colour and purity. No mean feat, but one that Van Cleef continually perfects to this day. Such is the importance of this setting, Van Cleef has dedicated an entire chapter of its latest High Jewellery collection, Legends of Diamonds, to this one technique.

Tiffany & Co.

An advertisement from Tiffany & Co, published in the New Yorker Magazine in 1969. Image courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

One of the most recent gemstones to be discovered, Tanzanite was first found near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in the mid-1960s. This rich, purplish-blue jewel was thought to be a potential rival to sapphires and was introduced by Tiffany & Co., who became its main distributor, to the international market in 1968 and named for its original location.

The company has a long history of discovery and exploration, thanks to founder Charles Lewis Tiffany’s love of acquiring and rare and important gemstones. Tiffany’s gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, joined the firm in 1876 and had a crucial role in discovering colourful new varieties of gem such as Kunzite (which he named for himself) and blush-hued Morganite (named in honour of the financier and famous gem enthusiast, J.P. Morgan). Launched just after Tiffany introduced Tanzanite to the world, this advert was designed to extoll the beauty of this mesmerising new gemstone to the wider world and promote the house as the very first to use it in its designs – ensuring that this modern jewel reached must-have status in no time at all.

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