Van Cleef & Arpels has always been very similar to the brand we know and love today. Since its very start in 1906 Van Cleef & Arpels have been accessorising the most elite individuals in society. The brand has complete knowledge of the procurement process, to selecting gemstones and watchmaking. You might own a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet or necklace, but what do you actually know about the designer themselves? It’s just as important to know the history of your luxury jewellery as it is to wear it.
Who are Van Cleef & Arpels as a brand?
In a very movie-like way, Van Cleef & Arpels began as a love story. Alfred Van Cleef and Estelle Arpels married in 1895 and as they came from families in the jewellery making world, their joint passions meant that they ended up opening their flagship location in Paris. The store soon attracted affluent customers, and their designs became more well-known as they were seen as bold and unique through their use of gemstones.
The Alhambra collection
The Alhambra collection arguably contains some of the most recognisable Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery pieces. The design features a four-leaf clover and is extremely similar to a Moorish quatrefoil, which is a pattern that looks like four circles that overlap each other. The Alhambra collection, as you can probably guess, is rumoured to be named after the Alhambra Palace which is located in Grenada, Spain. The very first Alhambra design was a necklace that featured 20 of its clover-shaped gems. In the late 1960s and the 1970s, this design was picked up by several celebrities who wanted to wear this piece with other necklaces of different shapes and designs. The necklace was soon seen on many celebrities, including American actress Grace Kelly, who owned the necklace in several different colours.
How much is a piece of jewellery from Van Cleef & Arpels?
Van Cleef & Arpels are one of the most famous jewellery designers in the world; their pieces are extremely well-crafted and coveted. While initially jewellery from Van Cleef & Arpels may be priced pretty high, their pieces of jewellery hold their value really well on the pre-loved market. It’s not rare for someone to take their Van Cleef & Arpels accessory (with all existing paperwork and box) into a luxury seller, and be told that it’s worth up to 50% of its retail value. This is a huge win as a lot of other jewellery brands are less of an investment, especially when you’re only getting between 15-20% back on the resale market.
What are their bestsellers?
We’ve already touched on the Alhambra collection, however, this collection wins the trophy for the most popular, and instantly recognisable, Van Cleef & Arpels collection. Today, the Alhambra collection consists of necklaces, bracelets, earrings and watches too. Take a closer look into some of Van Cleef & Arpels staple accessories below.
Necklaces and pendants
You probably know what the Alhambra necklace looks like by now, so instead of speaking about that design, we’re going to touch on a more modern design. This year Van Cleef and Arpels released a collection named Sous Les Étoiles, Heavenly Dreams. The necklaces in this collection are inspired by the unknown mystery surrounding our cosmos, and what has transfixed astronomers for centuries. One of the standout pieces of the entire collection is the Halley necklace. It’s designed to look like it’s sweeping around your neck and contains an 11.29-carat vivid yellow diamond, which can actually be taken out of the necklace and put into the matching ring.
You may be surprised to know that Van Cleef & Arpels were forced to trademark the term ‘between the finger ring’ in 1974. The brand was the first to create such a concept, and now many other jewellers have used this idea in their own designs. Now, Van Cleef & Arpels have created an entire collection of between the finger rings. In particular, the butterfly between the finger rings is another one of the brand’s most famous pieces. The design itself features two butterflies that look like they are in mid-flight. This ring contains a mix of colours as it contains pink sapphires, white gold and marquise-cut diamonds.
Although earrings may not spring to mind when you think of Van Cleef & Arpels, that doesn’t mean that the brand can’t create them well. Van Cleef & Arpels Magic earrings again come in a variety of colours and styles. For example, you can buy a two motif drop earring, and a three motif earring for those of you who want to feature the earrings as more of a statement piece, rather than an everyday piece of jewellery. The great thing about Van Cleef & Arpels is that their designs are continuous. You can wear the earrings with the bracelets, and even with the necklace too if you wanted. You know what you’re getting from this brand, and that’s why people love it.
It would be doing Van Cleef & Arpels an injustice to not speak about the Alhambra bracelets in this part, as arguably it’s the accessory that they are most famous for. The chain of the bracelet is made out of 18k yellow gold and most bracelets feature five four-leaf clovers. The clovers come in a variety of gemstones, from mother of pearl and carnelian to onyx. There is a Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet to match everyone’s style and favourite colour.
Van Cleef & Arpels is the home of iconic jewellery
Van Cleef & Arpels certainly come with a price, however, for that price you’re getting exquisite craftsmanship, a unique design and beautiful gemstones. The Alhambra collection has also resulted in the brand being seen as a symbol of good luck and good fortune, thanks to their design which is loosely based on the shape of a four-leaf clover.
By taking time to understand the backstory behind your favourite brands, a piece of luxury jewellery becomes more meaningful as the process behind its creation is explored, and the hard work Van Cleef & Arpels put in is revealed.