Minaudière created in 1934 by Van Cleef & Arpels for millionaire Florence Gould.

A minaudière is a women's fashion accessory, generally considered a jewelry piece, intended to substitute for an evening bag. A case with compartments, it allows storage for several items in a small space, such as a makeup compact, lipstick, watch, reading glasses, or keys.

The minaudière appeared during the 1930s. Its invention is attributed to Charles Arpels, of Van Cleef & Arpels, but many jewellers and Haute Couture designers have created their own models.


Generally metal plated and oblong, sized small enough to be held within the hand, a minaudière is a dainty accessory. The materials used to make it are most frequently rigid, with a metallic finish such as gold or silver.[1] The exterior may be detailed with precious or semi-precious stones, or decorated with lacquer or mother of pearl. However, textile designs also exist, with cloth overlaying a frame or flexible and supple, using velour, silk or brocade fabric, embroidered or not.

Some minaudières include a lanyard or chain to place over the wrist. Other designs have a satin or velour pouch to hold the minaudière.[2]

The interior can reveal the ingenuity of the designer. A minaudière contains several small compartments, carefully designed to organize the owner's personal items for maximum utility.

According to fashion journalist Lloyd Boston, a minaudière constitutes an "essential" part of an evening wardrobe, a small object with no limit to its usefulness, and a "fabulous character".[3]


According to press articles of the time[4] the minaudière was invented by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1934. Charles Arpels was inspired by watching Florence Gould, third wife of philanthropist Frank Jay Gould, toss several small, loose makeup items into a tin box.[2]

See also


  1. Certaines minaudières sont toutefois fabriquées en matériaux moins onéreux tels l'argent ou le styptor, alliage d'argent et d'étain créé dans les années trente par Van Cleef & Arpels. Cf. Jean-Jacques Richard, L'Histoire des Van Cleef et des Arpels, Books on demand, 2010.
  2. 1 2 Catherine Cariou, « La Minaudière de Van Cleef & Arpels », Paris Joaillerie, 5 mars 2007, lire en ligne (page consultée le 16 juin 2011)
  3. (English) Lloyd Boston, The Style Checklist : The Ultimate Wardrobe Essentials for You, p. 189, Atria Books, 2010, lire en ligne (page consultée le 16 juin 2011)
  4. Non signé, « Le plus beau présent de Paris : la Minaudière », blog L'Histoire des Van Cleef et des Arpels de Paris, lire en ligne (page consultée le 16 juin 2011)
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