Van Cleef & Arpels is a member of the Four Horsemen Club (nickname for the top four jewelers in the world); the others are Cartier, Graff, and Harry Winston. They are also referred to as gild stores after the Gilded Age. The company was founded in 1896 by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. Their brilliant business plan was a simple, yet elegant, three prong approach to selling jewelry. First: only use the finest materials in the world! This meant all their rough diamonds were full term crystals (also referred to as sawables in the industry). They bypassed all the macles and flats (cheap, poorly formed & wildly abundant inferior diamond crystals) and only selected the top two percent of what Mother Nature had created. With 49 out of every 50 diamonds being rejected as “not within our standards”, Van Cleef & Arpels quickly got the reputation as being the best money could buy! Their standards for excellence didn’t just stop with diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels introduced the world to a palate of colored gems the world had never seen – Aquamarines; Mandarin garnets; rubellites as well as the finest Kashmir sapphires; burmese rubies and muzo chrome green Colombian emeralds. Exceptional stones; exceptional jewelry pieces. Secondly, they hire the finest master diamond cutters and colored stone cutters in the world. Without the master cutter at the wheel a priceless gem could be grounded into a worthless bauble in the blink of an eye! No cutter was ever hired by Van Cleef & Arpels that hadn’t proven himself to be world renowned. The third prong is the mounting. Van Cleef & Arpels knew that how a masterpiece stone is placed into the jewelry was as important as the masterpiece stone itself. For this they coined the term “the mystery setting” as a way to set gemstones into their mount without the use of visible claws. By removing as many obstructions to light as possible, the master stone setters at Van Cleef & Arpels allowed the gemstones the opportunity to take full advantage of the available light. Three simple rules: only the finest raw materials; only the finest diamond and colored stone cutters in the world and wherever possible create an invisible mounting, “mystery setting”, to give the appearance the diamonds and gemstones are just floating on air! If price is no object and you insist on having the most valuable vivid white diamonds and colored gemstones, then search no further.