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Van Cleef & Arpels is a well-known jeweller at the Place Vendôme in Paris, founded in 1906. Although the company had produced branded watches as early as 1923, it was the 1949 creation of a rounded case with a single central lug that established the company as a creator of watch designs.

This story starts way back in 1898, when a woman named Estelle Arpels married a man named Alfred Van Cleef. Both Van Cleef and Arpels came from families with an interest in the gemstone business. Van Cleef’s father, Charles, was a gemstone cutter in Amsterdam before he moved to Paris and had Alfred in 1873. Estelle Arpels was the daughter of Léon Arpels, who was a prominent precious stone dealer in his own right.