The French jewellery Maison, Van Cleef & Arpels realised that new generation women required more accessible jewellery pieces during the early 1950s. Thus, in 1954, they established ‘La Boutique’ in Paris. However, the jewellery house could soon recognise that women are craving semi-precious jewellery items more than before. They can wear these jewellery pieces during the daytime, as well as with a formal evening wardrobe.
In 1968, Van Cleef & Arpels first launched the striking Alhambra jewellery collection. Featuring a four-leaf clover motif, the Alhambra symbolises elegance, freedom and luck. However, this motif has been an emblem in the brand’s jewellery collection since the 1920s.
From Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly to Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz, the iconic Alhambra has graced many celebrities and famous personalities. Well, the illustrious history of Alhambra started with Jacques Arpels. He was the nephew of the brand’s founders Estelle and Alfred.
Keep reading to explore the rich history of this precious jewellery that remains captivating to date and retain great value with time.
Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra in 1968: The Luckiest Year
Jacques Arpels loved to pick four-leaf clovers and give them to his employees. So he opted for using it as the signature of the Alhambra line. The jewellery Maison released the first design from this collection in 1968. At this time in history, people saw the emergence of the women’s liberation movement.
Moreover, more and more affluent was enjoying jet-set life by flying from one exquisite location to another. Van Cleef & Arpels turned up with a beautiful long necklace as the first creation of the Alhambra series. The jeweller embellished the necklace using twenty creased yellow gold clovers with unique beading. Soon after its release, this Alhambra jewellery piece turned to be a famous emblem of luck.
The Nature-inspired Architecture
Van Cleef & Arpels designed the Alhambra jewellery collection taking inspiration from the distinctive talisman’s powers. Every piece of jewellery renders both an exotic and classic feel. However, the French jeweller’s striking motif is an ode to the Doges Palace’s Gothic architecture of Italy, the conventional Moorish quatrefoil and the Alhambra Palace’s scalloped arches of Spain.
Member of La Boutique
In 1954, Van Cleef & Arpels established the ‘La Boutique’ to creatively produce more accessible jewellery pieces. The brand crafted the jewellery items of hard stones and semi-precious gems. The only intention was to captivate younger clients.
However, the production became successful. The established customers of the Maison were even snapping up the jewellery pieces. Van Cleef & Arpels originally sold the Alhambra collection under La Boutique, and it soon became emblematic of the brand.
The Alhambra was a high-end yet more affordable jewellery collection compared to their elaborate and whimsical pieces. An Alhambra jewellery piece continues to be a lasting symbol of style, class and luck.
The Iconic Alhambra in Many Variations
Van Cleef & Arpels started to upgrade the Alhambra collection in the 1970s, offering jewellery pieces in several variations. The Maison introduced hard stones like exquisite deep blue lapis lazuli and green malachite to the signature four-leaf clover motif.
Later, other stones like turquoise and the tiger’s eye joined the collection, followed by blue agate, carnelian, and mother-of-pearl. Interestingly, Maison’s customers layered their Alhambra necklace with several other gemstones.
One of the famous collectors of this iconic emblematic design was Grace Kelly. Her Alhambra jewellery collection included pieces in malachite, rock crystal, tortoise-shell and coral.
The Modern Alhambra Jewellery Collection
The iconic Alhambra collection today includes earrings, rings and bracelets besides the necklaces. You can wear them alone or layered with other items. Moreover, Van Cleef & Arpels also added capsule collections to the Alhambra. They come in different shapes, materials and sizes in creative ways.
This French jewellery house launched the bold, asymmetrical and beautiful Magic Alhambra in 2006. They crafted this Magic Alhambra of white gold and embellished it with diamonds and other stones like the carnelian and tiger’s eye. Moreover, Van Cleef also introduced Byzantine Alhambra and Lucky Alhambra in the same year.
The Lucky Alhambra was designed, taking inspiration from butterflies, stars and hearts. On the other hand, Byzantine Alhambra manifested openwork and solid structures made of yellow gold. However, the jeweller added a more intricate touch and released Sweet Alhambra, offering the signature motifs in miniature form.
The Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection has been enjoying an iconic status since 1968. Moreover, it is one of the most lasting collections of the brand. Although the Maison upgraded the series over the years, the Alhambra yet remains arresting and desirable.