Métiers d'Art

A Charmed Life

4 min read

A Charmed Life

This October one of Van Cleef & Arpels’ most iconic creations, the Alhambra collection, will be shown in Riyadh in celebration of its rich history and symbolic role as a mirror of the Maison’s enduring values and exquisite craftsmanship.

The four-leaf clover has been a revered emblem of good luck throughout the ages. This distinctive symbol, inspired by nature, has always held a special place in the heart of Van Cleef & Arpels, first appearing in the records of the High Jewellery Maison in the early 1900s and remaining a guiding principle and talisman ever since. Jacques Arpels, the nephew of founder Estelle Arpels, was often quoted as saying “To be lucky, you have to believe in luck” and was even known to pick four-leaf clovers for employees as charms.

Created in 1968, the original Alhambra long necklace was made up of 20 four-leaf motifs edged with golden beads, a playful and sophisticated new design that embraced the changing needs of daily life. The 1960s were a period that saw non-conformism touch the corners of the globe and the women’s liberation movement open up new opportunities and freedoms, an atmosphere reflected in the first iteration of the now-timeless design we see today.

Over the decades, the Alhambra quatrefoil has been refreshed while staying true to its roots as an enduringly contemporary yet immediately recognisable symbol of good fortune and an icon of the Maison. Over the years the Alhambra has been revised to six different collections that include necklaces, pendants, bracelets, rings, earrings and watches. The six collections – Vintage, Magic, Sweet, Lucky, Pure and Byzantine – play with natural materials, sizes and colours to offer a variety of combinations, adapting to the desires and needs of each wearer. Each piece embodies the Maison’s expertise and craftsmanship as a skilled team unites to create and hand-finish the jewellery while using the highest quality natural materials.

The Vintage Alhambra embraces the original 1960s design with uniform motifs, while Magic Alhambra’s spirited creations incorporate asymmetrical designs with bold colours and materials that include mother-of-pearl, malachite, carnelian, diamonds and onyx. In contrast, Sweet Alhambra exudes delicate grace with the inclusion of hearts and butterflies, while Lucky Alhambra features the additional symbols of nature complemented by a vibrant colour palette in a vivid celebration of luck and love, staple philosophies of the Maison. The Pure Alhambra is a simple interpretation of the motif, while the Byzantine Alhambra — exclusively made with yellow gold – pays homage to the symbol with a graphic interpretation of solid and openwork motifs.

The Alhambra has always brought luck to the Maison, as it has been a successful design ever since its introduction. Adored by clients, celebrities and royalty alike, the iconic motif continues to reinvent, adapt and embrace the now, proving it can stand the test of time.

Visit Al Faisaliyah Mall, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 14-23 October, www.vancleefarpels.com

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