Alfred Van Cleef and his father-in-law, Salomon Arpels, founded the company in 1896. In 1906, following Arpels’s death, Alfred and two of his brothers-in-law, Charles and Julien, acquired space for Van Cleef & Arpels at 22 Place Vendôme, across from the Hôtel Ritz, where Van Cleef & Arpels opened its first boutique shop. The third Arpels brother, Louis Arpels, joined the company in 1913. Van Cleef & Arpels opened boutiques in holiday resorts such as Deauville, Vichy, Le Touquet, Nice, and Monte-Carlo. In 1925, a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet with red and white roses fashioned from rubies and diamonds won the grand prize at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts.
Alfred and Esther’s daughter, Renée (born Rachel) Puissant, assumed the company’s artistic direction in 1926. Puissant worked closely with draftsman René Sim Lacaze for the next twenty years. Van Cleef & Arpels were the first French jewelers to open boutiques in Japan and China. Compagnie Financière Richemont S.A. acquired the firm in 1999.