Everything You Need to Know About Van Cleef & Arpels
by Jack Weir on Dec 23, 2020
Now that we’ve covered the main jewelry eras and precious gemstones, it’s time for us to dive into famous, world-recognized jewelry designers. Signed jewelry has always been desirable due to its credibility, top quality materials, and exquisite craftsmanship. The industry's famous jewelry names include Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Tiffany & Co, Bvlgari, David Webb, Boucheron, Graff, Buccellati, and many others. This week we will be discussing a brand that started with a love story - Van Cleef & Arpels.
In this blog post you will learn:
- Van Cleef & Arpels History
- Interesting Facts
- Vintage VCA Jewelry
- Modern VCA Jewelry
Van Cleef & Arpels History
The world-famous jewelry house started from a love story. Estelle Arpels, the daughter of the precious stone dealer, married the son of a stonecutter, Alfred Van Cleef, in 1895. Their passion for jewelry making, their families, and each other resulted in what we now know as Van Cleef & Arpels. In 1906, after Estelle’s father passed away, her brother Charles Arpels, and her husband, Alfred Van Cleef founded the Maison of Van Cleef & Arpels. The boutique was located in Paris’ Place Vendôme. It was an incredible location, right across the street from the epitome of Parisian luxury lifestyle - Hôtel Ritz. The Ritz attracted European aristocrats, valuable American business, and other famous jewelry names.
Youthful enthusiasm and a pioneering spirit continue to pulse through VCA, in pieces with secret functions, flowers, fairies, exotic birds. Regardless of the piece, Van Cleef & Arpels has always presented exquisite craftsmanship and high-quality materials
Van Cleef & Arpels came up with the extraordinary and innovative technique called the “Mystery Set”. In this technique, precious stones are set in a way that no prongs are visible. The innovation was patented by VCA in 1933. Although the technique is still practiced today, it involves the production of a single clip, taking more than 300 hours to create. Only the most high-skilled, master jewelers possess the expertise to execute this mysterious setting. “Mystery Set” pieces are extremely rare and are quite expensive.
The famous jewelry house has gifted us with some of the most iconic collections and designs. Around 1957, VCA introduced the “Camellia” design, which features alternating rows of circular-cut diamonds and sapphires, inspired by the Camellia flower. Freeman’s Auction sold a “Camellia” brooch and matching earrings for $150,000. The brooch featured 10.00 carats of diamonds and was signed “Van Cleef & Arpels N.Y. 40223” on the back. The earrings featured 14.50 carat of sapphires and 6.00 carat of diamonds.
“To be lucky, you must believe in luck,” Jacques Arpels liked to say.
In 1968, VCA created the first Alhambra® long necklace, composed of 20 clover-shaped motifs, increased yellow gold, and trimmed with gold beads. This symbolic design achieved immediate success, recognized throughout the world as a token of luck, emblematic of Van Cleef & Arpels. The iconic Alhambra design is in production to this day. Nowadays, it comes in various variations, enriched with a wide range of materials, colors, and symbols.
Vintage Van Cleef & Arpels Jewelry
At Jack Weir & Sons, we’ve been curating rare and coveted jewelry for over 40 years. VCA has always been one of our favorite designers. We regularly update our vintage jewelry collection with rare Van Cleef & Arpels pieces. Here are some of our favorites (click on the image to learn more about the piece):
Modern Van Cleef & Arpels Jewelry
Nowadays VCA constantly updates its rich history with new, exquisite creations. With the rise of the internet and technological development, unfortunately, plagiarism and fraud became more possible and harder to detect. We advise you to be careful when buying popular signed jewelry. Check the signature, the serial number, the paperwork if applicable, and only buy from credible sources like Van Cleef & Arpels or reputable estate jewelry companies, like Jack Weir & Sons.
The Bottom Line
Favored by iconic figures like Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, and members of royalty, Van Cleef & Arpels has established themselves as a pillar of the jewelry world. Whimsical, creative, and magical, VCA will always be at the heart of the jewelry world.
We are happy to carry rare, vintage Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry pieces in our collection and help you find the jewel of your dreams!