Van Cleef & Arpels
With boutiques in the poshest locations in the world and a history of making astounding pieces for royalty, Van Cleef & Arpels is one of the world’s most recognized, exclusive jewelry and watch brands. Serious collectors appreciate the high quality and beautiful stones used in Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry.
What Is Van Cleef & Arpels?
When Estelle Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef married in 1895 in Paris, they formed more than just a love match. The joining of their families, both with deep roots in the precious stone trade, also marked a new chapter in Parisian jewelry. The Van Cleef & Arpels company continues to thrive today, more than 100 years after its founding, as an exclusive jewelry and watch maker.
Estelle Arpels’ father dealt in precious stones, while Alfred Van Cleef’s father was a diamond broker. Alfred joined his father-in-law and brothers-in-law to create a boutique called the Maison, which has maintained the same address in Paris since 1906. The company designed many unique pieces in the early days, including Touch Wood jewelry that combined wood with precious stones and metals. It soon expanded to watches as well.
Van Cleef & Arpels also became known for its exquisite crowns made for royalty around the world. Some of its most famous pieces include the crown of Queen Nazli of Egypt and one for Empress Farah Pahlavi in Iran. The latter crown uses stones from the Imperial treasury, and the stunning piece includes diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls.
How Can You Identify Van Cleef & Arpels Pieces?
Each piece of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry displays a unique serial number as well as a signature stamp, which appears in the same place depending on the piece. On earrings, for instance, it sits on the ear clip. The stamp says Van Cleef & Arpels or VCA.
Van Cleef & Arpels only employs 18-karat gold. Each handmade piece looks polished and professional, living up to the company’s high standards. The signature Mystery Set™ style allows the prongs of the setting to remain invisible, and it is so labor-intensive to make that the company only produces a few of these pieces each year.
What Is Van Cleef & Arpels Known For?
Some of the most famed pieces in Van Cleef & Arpels history include:
- A bracelet with rubies and diamonds made to look like red and white roses that took the grand prize at the 1925 International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts.
- An Art Deco style necklace owned by Queen Nazli of Egypt with 220 carats of diamonds.
- A pearl and diamond jewelry ensemble given to Grace Kelly as a wedding gift from her husband, Prince Rainier III of Monaco.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ Most Iconic Designs and Collections
Fans of Van Cleef jewelry recognize the brand by its Alhambra collection, which features the signature look of Van Cleef & Arpels with a design that resembles a simplified four-leaf clover. But you can find many other pieces that are just as noteworthy. Here are six of the top designs and collections beyond Alhambra:
- King Farouk’s broach: Made in 1938, this statement piece features hundreds of dazzling rubies.
- Frivole collection: Reminiscent in some ways of the Alhambra collection, this collection features a simple 3D flower made from hearts.
- Passe-Partout necklace: This revolutionary necklace allows the wearer to swap out the jewels and change the piece into a bracelet, brooch or choker.
- Ballerina brooch: This brooch, inspired by Louis Arpels’ friendship with George Balanchine, eventually led to an iconic series.
- Lucky Animals collection: While these fun creations are aimed at a younger audience, they’ve been favored by many famous women, including Grace Kelly.
- Ruban secret watches: This collection is an updated version of the 1800s trend of “secret watches” that looked like bracelets.
Where to Buy Van Cleef & Arpels Pieces
You can find Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry pieces for sale from Fortuna Auction. We are honored to sell jewelry from this legendary brand, and whether you are building your collection or just starting one, you can find many appealing pieces. Register to bid at an upcoming Fortuna auction today.