It was Wallis Simpson, later the Duchess of Windsor, who first suggested a jewel patterned on a zipper to the artistic director of Van Cleef & Arpels, Renée Puissant, in 1939. A modern version is shown here.
These Van Cleef & Arpels turquoise, rock crystal, and diamond Alhambra ear pendants were owned by Elizabeth Taylor and acquired by Rick Moore and Van Cleef & Arpels at the Elizabeth Taylor auction by Christie’s in December. They will be on display but not for sale. “I went with the intention of buying one iconic piece for our boutique,” says Moore, “and that I did.”
When you first meet Rick Moore, the store director at the ethereal Van Cleef & Arpels location in The Shoppes at The Palazzo, it’s easy to see how his warm, down-to-earth personality has made him the go-to jeweler for Vegas VIPs. Moore refers to his clients as “friends,” and they trust him whenever the need for sparkle arises. They know he will come to the rescue with an arsenal of diamonds, such as the signature fourleafed Alhambra found on so many delicate fingers and wrists.
“Joining Van Cleef has allowed me to take my 20 years of jewelry experience to the highest level,” Moore says. Founded in France by Alfred Van Cleef and Charles Arpels in 1896, Van Cleef & Arpels cultivated a clientele among many historically celebrated women, including Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, and Jacqueline Kennedy.
For a man who represents one of the most high-end jewelry houses in Las Vegas, Moore retains a humble appreciation for his job and the people he serves. “When you help people select jewelry, you celebrate milestones with them,” he says. “When you meet a couple who is married 25 years and they are holding hands while selecting a necklace…What career offers more rewards than just seeing people happy? I represent the number-one jeweler in the world with an unbelievable reputation and clientele, so I say I did something right in life to work here.”
Moore, 48, regularly loans jewels worth millions of dollars to his clients to wear at exclusive events and often facilitates the gifting of diamond necklaces and gems to charitable organizations for fundraising purposes. When celebrities like Anne Hathaway request diamonds, he personally delivers the goods. And he sells big-ticket pieces, such as the $350,000 diamond zip pompom necklace featured in The King’s Speech. But Moore doesn’t let his prominent clientele or the handling of so many high-end jewels go to his head. His credo is to treat every client equally. “A client is a client whether they’re spending $10, $1,000, or $1,000,000,” he says. “They worked hard for whatever they’re buying, and that piece means something to them.”
The Van Cleef & Arpels maison in The Palazzo doubled its business in 2010, Moore says, mainly because the brand offers pieces that are more classic than trendy. “The Van Cleef client recognizes that our pieces have maintained and increased their value over the last 100 years,” he says. “The quality has never wavered with Van Cleef, so people feel confident spending their money here.”
Ellen Schaener, a socialite and philanthropist, says she’s lucky to have Moore as a friend and jewelry stylist. “He always knows exactly what I want, so he’s the first person my husband calls when there’s a special occasion and he needs a gift,” she says. “A lot of times when I happen to be at The Palazzo, I’ll pop into the store to see him and we’ll have lunch. He is such a special person.” Attorney Abbie Friedman, another of Moore’s clients, says he takes care of people in a way most store proprietors don’t. “He’s community-minded, and he’s loved by a lot of customers,” she says. “He’s a major asset to the community.”
Moore says he is available to his clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will even hop on a plane to see them at a moment’s notice. On one occasion, a client in San Francisco desperately needed a new watch before leaving for China the next day, but Moore did not have the exact model in his store. So Moore flew to Burbank, where a colleague from Van Cleef & Arpels’s Beverly Hills location met him with the $70,000 diamond timepiece. Moore then took a flight to San Francisco and a limo to the client’s home to deliver the goods. “I was on three flights in eight hours,” he says. “But my clients know I’m accessible, and I’m happy to do what it takes to make them happy.”
Being a Vegas resident since the age of 15, Moore says, has helped him build an impressive roster of clients. He also credits the culture of the city with aiding in his success. “We are a philanthropic town, and people are so loyal to one another and give back so much on a regular basis,” he says. “There’s a heart behind this city that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. I’m honored to be a part of it.”