About Van Cleef & Arpels Jewelry
Van Cleef & Arpels is a renowned French jewelry, watch, and perfume company that was founded in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and his brother-in-law, Salomon Arpels. The brand has been synonymous with luxury, excellence, and timeless elegance for over a century. Their exquisite creations have adorned royalty, Hollywood stars, and discerning collectors, making Van Cleef & Arpels one of the most prestigious names in the world of fine jewelry.
The story of Van Cleef & Arpels began in Paris, the City of Light, when Alfred Van Cleef, a talented gem-cutter, and Salomon Arpels, a dealer in precious stones, decided to combine their skills and passion for jewelry. The duo opened their first boutique at 22 Place Vendôme, an address that would become iconic in the world of high jewelry. The brand quickly gained a reputation for its innovative designs, exceptional craftsmanship, and the use of the finest gemstones.
Throughout its history, Van Cleef & Arpels has been known for its innovative techniques, such as the Mystery Set, a unique method of setting stones without any visible prongs or metal, allowing the gems to seemingly float on the surface. The brand has also created numerous patented designs and has a penchant for transforming everyday objects into whimsical jewelry pieces.
Some popular Van Cleef & Arpels collections and their origins include:
Alhambra: Introduced in 1968, the Alhambra collection is inspired by the four-leaf clover, a symbol of luck, love, health, and wealth. The signature quatrefoil motif, influenced by the architecture of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, has become an emblem of the brand. The Alhambra collection features necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings adorned with various precious stones and materials.
Perlée: The Perlée collection is inspired by the beauty of delicate pearls, featuring refined beading and intricate goldwork. First introduced in the 1920s, the Perlée designs showcase the brand's exceptional craftsmanship and skill in working with gold. The collection has evolved over the years, incorporating diamonds and colored gemstones, while maintaining its signature elegance and femininity.
Frivole: Launched in 1999, the Frivole collection captures the delicate beauty of flowers in bloom. Each piece is designed with intricately crafted petals, set with diamonds or colored gemstones. The collection exudes a sense of youthful playfulness and charm, making it a popular choice for those seeking a touch of whimsy in their jewelry.
Bouton d'or: Drawing inspiration from the iconic Paillette motif created in the 1930s, the Bouton d'or collection features bold, geometric designs that play with volume and form. The collection is characterized by its combination of precious materials, including gold, diamonds, and mother-of-pearl, creating a harmonious balance between elegance and modernity.
These iconic collections, among many others, have solidified Van Cleef & Arpels' position as a leading force in the world of fine jewelry. With a rich history and an unwavering commitment to innovation, quality, and timeless elegance, Van Cleef & Arpels continues to captivate and inspire jewelry enthusiasts worldwide.
Van Cleef and Arpels has earned itself a name by producing very high-quality products. In doing so, it has built up a following of committed customers including the Duchess of Windsor, Barbara Hutton, Jacqueline Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and more. The Van Cleef and Arpels Mystery Setting technique is pretty unique because the prongs holding the precious gems are hidden. As well as other innovations such as its Zip necklace which can be worn either around the neck or as a bracelet with the zipper closed.
The company has created jewelry for many celebrities, from Joan Crawford to Audrey Hepburn. In addition to their sense of style and attunement to the cultural climate, clients have been drawn by Van Cleef & Arpel's remarkably detailed artistry. From 1922-1945, they released several pieces featuring hieroglyphics and Egyptian motifs with geometric Art Deco jewelry. Following World War II, they began using naturalistic forms such as insects, flowers, fruit and birds, based on high society’s interest in the Near East in the 1960s. Today they're most famous for their Alhambra necklace which was made popular by Princess Grace of Monaco.
There has been a lot of attention on Van Cleef & Arpel's workmanship as much as its glamour lately. The firm is the subject of various exhibitions, including one at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California.
Van Cleef & Arpels' Alhambra collection is a timeless symbol of luck and elegance, drawing inspiration from the four-leaf clover and the intricate architecture of the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. Over the years, the iconic Alhambra motif has evolved into various sub-collections, each embodying a unique interpretation of the classic design. Here's a description of the different Alhambra collections:
Vintage Alhambra: The Vintage Alhambra collection is the original and most iconic line within the Alhambra family. Featuring the classic quatrefoil shape in a variety of materials, including mother-of-pearl, onyx, malachite, and more, the Vintage Alhambra pieces are known for their timeless elegance and versatility. This collection includes necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings that can be worn alone or layered for a personalized look.
Magic Alhambra: Launched in 2006, the Magic Alhambra collection celebrates the Alhambra's 40th anniversary. This collection features the iconic quatrefoil motif in various sizes, creating a sense of movement and fluidity. The Magic Alhambra line is characterized by its bold yet playful designs, incorporating a mix of precious materials such as gold, diamonds, and a wide array of gemstones.
Sweet Alhambra: The Sweet Alhambra collection offers a delicate and feminine take on the classic Alhambra motif. Introduced in 2007, this collection features smaller-sized clover motifs, making it the perfect choice for those seeking a more subtle and refined look. The Sweet Alhambra line includes dainty necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and rings, often adorned with diamonds or colorful gemstones.
Lucky Alhambra: The Lucky Alhambra collection combines the iconic Alhambra motif with other symbols of luck, such as butterflies, hearts, and stars. This whimsical collection offers a diverse range of materials and designs, from delicate mother-of-pearl and intricate guilloché enamel to vibrant gemstones. The Lucky Alhambra line is perfect for those looking to express their personal style and individuality.
Alhambra Guilloché: The Alhambra Guilloché collection showcases the intricate art of guilloché, a traditional engraving technique that creates precise, repetitive patterns on the surface of the metal. This collection reinterprets the classic Alhambra motif with a contemporary twist, featuring the iconic quatrefoil shape in gold with finely engraved guilloché patterns, often accented with diamonds.
These various Alhambra collections pay tribute to the rich history and timeless elegance of the iconic Van Cleef & Arpels design. Each sub-collection offers a unique interpretation of the Alhambra motif, allowing individuals to find the perfect piece that resonates with their personal style and taste.