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Van Cleef & Arpels Magic Alhambra Malachite Earrings - Fortuna October Exchange_Mobile

The Origins of the VCA Alhambra Collection

Van Cleef & Arpels’s opened the Parisian “La Boutique,” in 1954, which was meant to offer more accessible fine jewelry for young women to wear. This burgeoned the creativity that would eventually lead to the creation of the jewelry houses’ most infamous collection, the Alhambra, in 1968.  The craftsmen at VCA could not have anticipated the sweeping change that this new line would bring from 1968 and onward.

That year saw the introduction of the VCA Alhambra design, with a shape reminiscent of a four-leaf clover crafted from beaded edges. A long necklace adorned with 20 motifs debuted the collection, the origin of an emblematic style for the jeweler that since proliferated and endures today.

What Is the VCA Alhambra?

The Alhambra collection likely received its namesake from the palace and fortress in Granada, Spain, whose sweeping ornate archways are said to have been the inspiration. The design resembles the four overlapping circles of Moorish quatrefoil decorations — traditional signs of good luck — so the symbol had small appearances in jewelry during the 1920s as a talisman. “To be lucky you have to believe in luck,” said Jacques Arpels, who was fond of including symbols of luck in many of his designs. The Alhambra motif could also be described as a four-leaf clover, which the artisan collected in his garden in Germigny-l’Évêque just northeast of Paris.

The collection became a celebrity favorite through the 1970s, and the symbolic Alhambra appears in rings, earrings and jeweled watches today. The Alhambra design has been revived every decade since its induction, utilizing new gemstones, such as chalcedony, carnelian, tiger’s eye and diamond, building upon the design’s versatility.

What’s the Most Sought-After VCA Alhambra Piece?

Some of the most prized VCA Alhambra pieces include the opera-length necklaces in the Vintage Alhambra collection, a reproduction of the design’s first editions. The Magic Alhambra collection uses a bold, asymmetrical design for the modern-day.  Chains of white, yellow or rose gold set with up to 20 diamond motifs are the most expensive pieces in these collections.

The turquoise Alhambra set, first introduced in the ’60s has been notoriously difficult to find as turquoise that meets the jewelry maison’s quality standard is hard to come by.

Are There Still Pieces Being Made?

The most recent releases featuring the Alhambra included four models of long necklaces and bracelets introduced at the collection’s 50th-anniversary celebration in 2018. Their design also follows the original, this time set with diamonds or rock crystals with grey mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli or onyx.

Today, wearers of VCA jewelry have a variety of materials, sizes and gems to choose from. The many iterations of the Alhambra make more personal expressions possible. Some of VCA’s most recent takes on the motif were revived in collections like Magic Alhambra, Sweet Alhambra, Pure Alhambra, Lucky Alhambra and Byzantine Alhambra, to name a few. Fortuna recently sold a piece from the Magic Alhambra collection, a chic pair of Malachite and Diamond Earrings with 3 Motifs (pictured above), for $11,250 at our October ’19 Exchange sale.

The high-end jewelry maison never expected their fine jewelry line to withstand the test of time but the collection remains one of their most coveted and recognizable designs. The Alhambra design changed significantly throughout the legacy of Van Cleef & Arpels. However, the enduring, iconic nature and popularity of these pieces may mean that later generations could be lucky enough to acquire new editions for themselves. Find Stunning Van Cleef & Arpels Jewelry at Fortuna Auction

If you’re pursuing pieces of fine jewelry from the designers of VCA, a sale by Fortuna Auction may have just the piece you’re looking for. Browse through the selection of upcoming auctions today or speak to a Fortuna specialist for more information. Browse past VCA Alhambra pieces sold by Fortuna here.

We also provide unbiased appraisals and handle all of the consignment for your VCA rings, necklaces and other accessories. Like you, Fortuna is passionate about the craftsmanship and value of fine jewelry, and we strive to provide the most transparent, risk-free experience in selling or buying your next piece.

The Jewelry of Art Nouveau

Art Nouveau was a broad artistic movement, with one of its key beliefs being art should be a part of daily life. Although short-lived, the Art Nouveau style is amongst the most celebrated periods of jewelry design.

Lasting only 15 years from 1895 through 1910, the style saw a flourishing of innovative ideas, materials and techniques that propelled jewelry designers into artists, crafting exquisite, often breathtaking jewelry.

At the turn of the 20th century, the zeitgeist called for bold, new ideas and an abandonment of the historical Victorian precedents of the 19th century in all forms of art, from the decorative arts to music, and architecture to poetry. During this time, colonial expansion by European countries re-opened trade routes with the East, bringing exotic products to the Western world. With widespread industrial production of the decorative arts, poorly made objects often imitating earlier periods were widely available. As a reaction to the overly rigid and somber Victorian period, a rejection of the machine-made and an embrace of Eastern aesthetics, the Art Nouveau style was born. Its masters sought to modernize design, revive quality of production and elevate the status of the artisanship.

 

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Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Citrine and Diamond “Bird on a Rock” Brooch

Our Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger Citrine and Diamond Bird on a Rock Brooch is one of the most iconic designs by the famed French visionary.  Jean Schlumberger was deeply inspired by nature and movement. The jeweler traveled far and wide seeking inspiration from then little-seen places like Bali, India, and Thailand. The ‘Bird on a Rock’ is one of the famed French designer’s most iconic pieces. The original ‘Bird on a Rock’ was designed in 1956 with the Tiffany Yellow Diamond in mind, one of the largest yellow diamonds to have ever been discovered. Since then the design has been reissued by Tiffany & Co. still with only large stones as the bird’s perch. 

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Harry Winston 4.51-Carat Pear-Shaped Diamond Ring

This Harry Winston 4.51-Carat Pear-Shaped Diamond Ring from our upcoming Fine Jewels auction, exemplifies the jewelry house’s strive for perfection. Thought of by most as the “King of Diamonds,” Harry Winston had an incredible eye for not only selecting the most important diamonds but for setting them in beautiful designs that would accentuate their natural sparkle. This ring emits a glisten like no other; the center 4.51-Carat pear-shaped diamond exhibits G color and VS2 clarity, and is surrounded by 14 pear-shaped diamonds weighing approximately 2.25-carats total. The VS-SI clarity and F-G color of these smaller diamonds perfectly reflect the sparkle and shine of one another, as well as that of the center stone.

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How Fortuna Doubled the Value of a Client’s Fancy Yellow Diamond

There are many things to take into consideration when purchasing a yellow diamond. Yellow diamonds are considered Fancy Colored diamonds, and therefore very rare. Only about 1 in every of 16,500 carats that are mined are yellow diamonds. Amongst these diamonds, there is a spectrum of saturation and vividness of color that contributes to making a yellow diamond more or less valuable. These color grades in order of value are: Fancy Light, Fancy, Fancy Dark, Fancy Deep, Fancy Intense, and Fancy Vivid. And as you can imagine, there is a huge difference in worth between yellow diamonds graded Fancy Light Yellow versus diamonds with a grade of Fancy Vivid Yellow.

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The Importance of GIA Diamond Grading

When you submit your items for consignment at Fortuna, our jewelry experts will give you their best assessment as to what your piece would fetch at auction; there are many factors to consider, such as condition, age, provenance, quality, current market conditions, and rarity. After our primary assessment, we will then discuss with you the possibility of submitting your items for certification at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

Why GIA?

Even if you’re not in the diamond industry, you’re probably familiar with the 4 C’s of diamond grading: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat Weight. These are objective values of a diamond’s characteristics used to determine the value of a diamond. This now internationally adopted metric was created by GIA, as such, they continue to be the most trusted diamond graders in the industry.

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yellow diamond

Yellow Diamonds: Differences in Grades & Value

Many buyers associate diamonds with icy, colorless clarity, but in fact, diamonds can come in many colors, including pink and blue. One color that has seen some popularity in recent years is the yellow diamond.

Yellow diamonds, sometimes called canary diamonds, are always created by one of two things — the color may be either introduced artificially or found in nature. Natural yellow diamonds get their color from the presence of nitrogen molecules.

 

Is a Yellow Diamond Rare?

White diamonds are graded from D to Z in terms of purity of color. As they get closer to Z, they take on a yellow hue due to imperfections and decrease in value. Once natural diamonds are completely out of this range, they can take on a deep, rich color and their beauty becomes sublime. These diamonds are referred to as “fancy colored.”

Only a small percentage of mined diamonds have a deep, true color. Of these, the majority are yellow. Therefore, while natural yellow diamonds are still very rare, they are much easier to find on the market compared to other fancy colored diamonds.

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2019APR Vintage Rolex GMT Master 1675 Gilt Dial - Fortuna Exchange Monthly Jewelry Watch Auction

Difference Between a Manual and Automatic Watch

Watches are a timeless piece of jewelry that suggests refinement and class. These timepieces come in a variety of styles and features, which are essential for the aesthetic. Another factor to consider for watches is the types of watch movements.

The mechanical style watch is either manual or automatic. Their similarity is that both watches are wound by a spring, and their energy builds through components inside the watch. The tension in the spring releases and this energy goes to the gear train; then the hands of the watch move and you can utilize it to tell the time.

The differences between a manual and an automatic watch come into play when analyzing how you wind them. No one style is better than the other for market value, so choosing the right watch comes down to your lifestyle preferences and the features you want.

Read through our guide on manual and automatic watches to decide which is best for you.

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diamond ring

What is the Worth of a Diamond?

Almost all diamonds share similar traits. They sparkle. They delight. They adorn. Yet, to a jewelry investor or a gemstone collector, each diamond has a specific value that transcends its natural beauty.

Auction consignors and their preferred auction houses must, therefore, determine the market value of every diamond. However, approximating a diamond’s likely selling point involves digging deeper into the diamond itself. Below are some of the factors that help indicate how much a diamond is worth within a national or global marketplace.

Evaluating the 4Cs of a Diamond

Most diamond owners or buyers have heard of the 4Cs: Cut, Clarity, Carat weight and Color. Gemologists and jewelers lean on these four factors to help them define a diamond.

Without the 4Cs, which were established nearly 70 years ago, diamonds would be challenging to differentiate objectively. The 4Cs provide a solid platform that everyone can agree upon. For instance, the color of a diamond has a strong impact on its worth. Usually, the closer to colorless a diamond is, the more highly it is prized. Therefore, a truly or practically clear diamond will have a better color grade than one with a yellowish tint. However, the color isn’t always bad. The general rule of thumb is, if a diamond is colored, the more intense the color the better.

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