What: Van Cleef & Arpels Zip necklace When: 1950 Legacy: Technical mastery that made an everyday object extraordinary Dazzle like Kate Middleton with these 5 jewellery pieces Designers often say that extraordinary inspiration can come from the most ordinary of places. The archetypal example is surely Van Cleef & Arpels’ legendary Zip necklace. The story dates back to the late 1930s, when then- Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson , was talking to then-creative director of Van Cleef & Arpels, Renée Puissant, about the fascinating new clothing fastener that had just made its way into her couture clothing (designs by Elsa Schiaparelli, to be exact – the duchess’ favourite). Crown jewels: Camilla Parker Bowles’ most stand-out jewellery pieces Puissant’s creative juices started to flow, and with the help of jewellery designer René Sim Lacaze, she began the process of elevating the humble zip, using precious materials to catapult it into the rarefied arena of high jewellery. Why avant garde pieces are the new cutting edge of high jewellery Although the initial inspiration might have come in an instant, the necklace was so technically difficult to create that it took over a decade to bring it to life. Part of the challenge lay in making each tooth of the zip completely functional, even when created from soft precious metals such as gold and platinum. This would enable it to be worn open as a necklace or closed as a bracelet, gifting the piece with a transformative functionality characteristic of Van Cleef & Arpels’ creations. STYLE Edit: Van Cleef & Arpels’ new exhibition reveals the beauty of nature Upon its debut in 1950, the necklace became an instant icon. Not only was it a wholly unique and imaginative creation, but it also exemplified Van Cleef & Arpels’ mastery of its craft. Since then, the maison has revisited the design a number of times, each undertaking just as striking as the last. Here is a creation that truly elevates the everyday and allows us to see how extraordinary beauty can result from an ordinary object. Want more stories like this? Sign up here. Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .