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Truely A Mid-Summernight's Dream!



After already having us at the Watches and Wonders in March, Van Cleef & Arpels invited us to the presentation of their new haute joaillerie collection in Rome on June 24th. We feel deeply indebted to Tatyana, Ralf, Philip, Jülide and Pinar for putting us on the guest list of this wonderful event.


Ralf Graeser at Villa Medici, June 25th, 2023

The invitation spoke for itself. Receiving a piece of art like this already communicates, this will be special. Still, I needed to convince Sandra to go...



... who never regretted coming along. Friday after work, a driver picked us up from our home to take us to the airport. When we arrived in Rome, where we were taken to the storied 'Hassler' located atop the Spanish Steps. We were in Rome many times during my first years at Colgate but had not been back for a long time. It was fantastic to return on a mild summer night like this!


After a a quiet rooftop dinner, a refreshing rest and an extended breakfast in the patio of the hotel, we did not need to hurry to be ready for a visit to a family owned winery, not too far from the city.


A relaxed wine tasting and lunch, accompanied by Philip, Jülide and Pinar of Van Cleef & Arpels

Of course, we arrived back to the hotel later than expected, which saved me shopping the old town in oven type temperatures - for now. The mood remained upbeat, since the wine tasting was such a nice experience. Waiving the shops also meant having enough time to get ready for the 'Grand Tour'. They actually sent stylists to our hotel room!



None of this felt intimidating and we were eagerly expecting what was to come when we rejoined our company from Van Cleef in the lobby.



The venue of the main event was the Villa Medici, conveniently loacted just a few steps away from the Hassler. While in the heart of Rome, the property is home to the French Académie des Beaux-Arts, hence a very fitting place to host the presentation of a new line of jewelry by the maison. Although just a short walk away, they took us by golf carts, so we stay chilled!



Welcomed by the host of the event, Mme. Stéphanie Rault, we embarked on our Grand Tour. The term 'Grand Tour' stems from the times when the upspring of the well-to-do were sent on an extended journey, usually sponsored by their mothers. The idea was to gain meaningul experience (of all sorts) before entering adult life. This was achieved by travelling to 8 different locations, never running out of cash. Johann von Goethe was among the lucky ones. London, Paris, Venice and Baden-Baden (not because they have a 'Roomers' now too there...) were some of the the places that were set to scene in the garden of the Villa. Each destination presented the visitor with examples from the new collection. Even those of us, who are not into gems weren't disappointed. Those who are, were bracing for focus...







Final stop was the breathtaking terrace of the beautiful 14th century structure, overlooking the ancient city of Rome.




After a number of champagnes, everyone was ready for dinner. This was prepared by 3-star chef Emmanuel Renaut of the popular 'Flocons de Sel' in Megève, who had already prepared the meal at the 'Kiosque des Bastions' during the Watches and Wonders in Geneva. The meal was visually at least as pleasing as it was tasty.






The final chapter of the journey was the quite impressive performance of an opera singer who sang, sitting on a swing hanging from a baloon that slowly rose before the eyes of the stunned audience.



Instead of flying us home, Ralf and Pinar took the time to take us through the exibition the next day. The display of jewelry was mind-boggling in itself. Not only did it comprise the new collection, it also featured such an extensive compilation of historic pieces that I was wondering, what insurance would ever cover an event like this. Everything was in the Villa for at least three days!

By the way, 85% of the examples of the new collection were sold on the spot.



The highlight of the day was the opportunity for Sandra to try on a couple of the items herself. They looked too good on her!





The remaining time was reserved to browse the shops with a well deserved female bias, as Domenica, my beloved vintage watch stores are chiuso anyways.



As if one could ever forget this amazing weekend, a wonderful bouquet of flowers was sent to our home later on. It was ordered from a wellknown florist in Sachsenhausen that we would only allow ourselves for special occasions.

Now, you may wonder how I got there. Being at the watch fair in March was owed to my writing. Being in Rome however, felt like real friendship. I am certainly not the Richard Burton type and not one who could spend six digits out of impulse. I feel no pressure to become an haute joaillerie customer but I am now a fan of Van Cleef & Arpels. Fortunately, they have different ranges of beautiful Jewelry to chose from!










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