5o years ago Van Cleef & Arpels showed the first Alhambra necklace which, loved since the 60s by greatest fashion icons, became a true symbol of luck and the protagonist of a dedicated book. Today we find new creations of the brand’s signature four-leaf clover jewelry…

Text by: Fiammetta Cesana

“To be lucky, you have to believe in luck” said Jacques Arpels, nephew of Estelle Arpels, who founded the luxury jewelry house with her husband Alfred Van Cleef. The luck indeed has always been the maison’s dearest value, pursuing it over the years through the fluid refinement of its collections, which continue to reflect the style of the time. 

In 1968, Van Cleef & Arpels launched the Alhambra collection with the first necklace inspired by the four-leaf clover. This element of nature, historically known as bearer of good fortune, made its first appearance in the French maison’s records in the 1920s, and throughout the years, it mingled with wooden talismans, lucky charms and benevolent fairies… 

However the Alhambra necklace remained the emblema of the series, turning to be a real icon of luck. With its recognizable golden beads, it adored from Romy Schneider’s to Francoise Hardy’s till Grace of Monaco’s timeless elegance. “The Alhambra long necklace captured the spirit of the age and introduced new ways of wearing jewels in everyday life. Fifty years later, it stands as a reference that has profoundly influenced the history of jewelry.” Nicolas Bos, brand’s President and CEO.

Pressroom Alhambra, Histoire, Femmes, Romy Schneider on set of the film 'Le Mouton Enragé', 1974. Courtesy of Catherine Rotulo
Pressroom Alhambra, Histoire, Femmes, Françoise Hardy. Courtesy of Leonard de Raemy
Pressroom Alhambra, Histoire, Femmes. Grace of Monaco at a poetry reading in Edinburgh, 1979
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Today, indeed, the maison proposes new pieces enriching the permanent collection, by blending the iridescence of gray mother-of-pearl with the sparkle of diamonds and the gentle glow of pink gold, while combining the deep black of onyx combines with gold and diamonds. Moreover, two limited edition models are embellished with lapis lazuli and two others with rock crystal, in homage to the stones that have engaged with the Alhambra series throughout its history.

Pressroom Alhambra, Nouveautes, Associations, Sautoir
Pressroom Alhambra, Nouveautes, Associations, Bracelet
Pressroom Alhambra, Nouveautes, Associations, Onyx Bracelet
Pressroom Alhambra, Nouveautes, Associations
Pressroom Alhambra, Nouveautes, Palette, Cristal Sautoir
Pressroom Alhambra, Nouveautes, Palette, Lapis Sautoir
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To celebrate the half-century anniversary, Van Cleef & Arpels also decided to collaborate with the journalist Nicholas Foulkes, releasing a book to document the brand’s history and reveal how it has been able to adopt itself to the changes of fashion and style. 

Other important partnerships contributed to spread the evocative message of the maison and of Alhambra collection as custodian of beauty and luck. The photographs of Valérie Belin – who defined luck as the fleeting moment “giving someone a chance” – represent the brand’s world inspired by nature through a still life shot mixing flowers and jewels, like in a scene of creation, and through two superimposed images of a young girl wearing the Alhambra necklace turning into a black and white hologram-like diptych (article’s cover).

Then the French-Turkish duo Burcu & Geoffrey, directing the film “Journey of Luck”, displays the story of a four-leaf clover-butterfly… 

And the illustrator Julie Joseph offers her interpretation of the collection with a dreamlike animation “The crafting of luck”…

Finally, the photographers Sonia Sieff and Damian Foxe portray the Alhambra in a contemporary light.

Pressroom Alhambra. Photo by Damian Foxe
Pressroom Alhambra. Photo by Damian Foxe
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Have a look to the whole Alhambra collection at: Van Cleef & Arpels