ArtScience Museum, MBS, SG

VAN CLEEF & ARPELS: The Art & Science of Gems – ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands Singapore

A unique collaboration between Van Cleef & Arpels and the French National Museum of Natural History.

The exhibit of jewellery pieces selected from Van Cleef and Arpels‘ collection displayed across 7 themes illustrating the poetry and ingenious craftsmanship of the Maison while the  gems and minerals from the renowned collection of the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris invited by L’Ecole Van Cleef and Arpels, highlight the 7 major principals critical to the precious stones’ formation.

A unique connection of pairing the art and science to bring out a deeper understanding about earths formations of precious jewels and how extraordinary craftsmanship can bring out the works of art.

If you are a lover of crystals or jewellery or both, this is a must see exhibition considering that there are some rare and exquisite hand crafted pieces of jewellery on showcase as well as rare minerals being shown in the exhibition as well.

Here are some pictorial highlights from the exhibition which I found very interesting and intrigued.

The Earth

As you enter the exhibition entrance, this projection display greets you from above. Where it tells us about mineral formations on earths about 4.5 billions years ago. The Earth that we now live on is about 4.543 billion years (A.D. 2016).


What you can see in one of the early showcase is the Giant Quartz crystal like the one below.

Giant Quartz Said “of Napoleon”



Underneath the Earth surface lies pressure within. At moderate depths, in the upper mantle, it is the realm of the diamond. Composed of carbon atoms, the exceptional hardness and fieriness of diamonds are related to the mantle’s pressure where they crystalise.

Fancy Vidid Yellow Diamond Crystal – 5CT, on Kimberlite (left), Black Diamond, 330CT (right)

Transport & Water

With pressure and temperature decreasing closer to the Earth’s surface, another key principal in ‘mineral making’ is transport. Elements can migrate from one location to another and, thanks to that transport, they can aggregate to make bigger crystals. Incredible minerals can develop in that context, such as gold and topaz. Those outcrops, called ‘primary’, can later be eroded and their gems transported by water into sediments, which then form ‘secondary deposits’. This also applies to a variety of emeralds formed under moderate temperatures and pressure.

Transport is often facilitated by water, which is an excellent migration agent within the Earth’s Crust. Water percolation within sediments can also form impressive veins deposited by hot and pressurised aqueous solutions creating amethyst.

Emerald on Pyrite and Calcite


Nature has been a major theme and source of inspiration for the Maison since its foundation. Delicate flowers and blossoms and real or imaginary animals have brought vitality and poetry to its creation from the 1920s to the present day. In this segment of the exhibition you see various hand crafted pieces of various jewellery crafted from nature inspirations like the ones below.


For the past 3.5 billion years, life has deeply modified earth’s surface. Not only have some organisms synthesis oxygen, but many have also produced shells and skeletons. These are formed by ‘bio-minerals’, meaning minerals produced by living organisms.. They include ivory, coral, pearls and mother-of-pearl, among many others. One of the pieces on display is the mother-of-pearl and pearl as shown below in the open clamp shell.

ArtScience Museum, MBS, SG
Pearl & Mother-of-Pearl


With fossilisation, the Earth’s materials are buried back at great depths. Little by little, mineral accumulations are subjected to increases in pressure and temperature., inducing re-crystallization; this is called metamorphism. Metamorphism can also take place when two continents collide together.

Lazurite Crystals with Pyrite in White Marble

Activity Areas

There are also some activities which one can engage in during the exhibition like the ones below. Where you get to do some hands on craft of explore the science of mineralogy through the little activities. They are hidden at certain corners. Just keep a look out and you can spot them.


Before attending the exhibition, I had no idea what this was all about. What drew me in was the Bird Clip and Pendant piece which was on the advertisement banner of the exhibition. And the first time I step into the exhibition at the ArtScience Museum, was when I realise what this brand is about and what I could perhaps take away after spending almost an hour touring the exhibits and marveling at the various precious stones, and exquisite objects on display.

Exhibit Period: 23 April to 14 August 2016

Ticketing Information: Refer to website link below.

Exhibitior WebsiteLocation: ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956

*Note: Part of the write up has been extracted from the Exhibition guide provided. Images are taken from the ArtScience Museum exhibition, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

*This article coincides with The Daily Post Daily Prompt : Connected


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