At the recent Oscars Presentations, Australian Actress Margot Robbie walked down the red carpet wearing a black chiffon gown and a very noticeable Zipper Necklet by Van Cleef & Arpels. Ms Robbie exclaimed, “This necklet right here is worth more than my life, better not lose it tonight”.
No, Ms Robbie, best not to lose it.
Van Cleef & Arpels are a French jewellery company and have been making their famous Zipper Necklets since the 1950’s. The original zipper necklet was inspired by the Duchess of Windsor – formally Wallis Simpson – who suggested to the firm’s artistic director Renee Puissant that she should create a piece based on the zip fastener. Although this happened in 1938 it wasn’t until 1951 that the first Zipper Necklet was produced and soon became an iconic design for the French jeweller.
I have seen several figures bandied around as to the price of the Zipper Necklet from US$1.5 million to US$ 1.9 million. I thought about ringing Van Cleef & Arpels to ask them but thought better of it. You can imagine how that conversation would go…
The piece incorporates 150 diamonds and 300 sapphires all set in 18ct yellow gold. To my eye the diamonds around Ms Robbie’s neck appear to be about 0.5cts each and I estimate there are 66 of these stones making the weight of these stones 33cts. I will assume the other stones are smaller. I will estimate their total weight at 3cts. The sapphires are all those small blue beads in the tassel of the zipper. I will assume they’re 0.10cts each making the total sapphire weight 30cts. The gold will be quite heavy but I am sure the piece would be a cast component and hand assembled rather than completely handmade. Even if I assume the stones are all the highest quality and apply a king’s ransom of a retail margin I am hard pressed valuing this piece at more than US$ 700,000.
The point is; it is difficult for a piece of jewellery to be worth more than US$ 1 million unless it incorporates very large and important stones.
Poor Ms Robbie values her life as the equivalent of a small two bedroom terrace house (with no parking) in Sydney. Perhaps I am being unfair to Ms Robbie. Perhaps with some champagne, a length of red carpet and a good dose of glamour we are liable to believe anything.