Before the French became known for fashion and food, they’d earned a reputation for being superstitious.
Jacques Arpels, nephew of Van Cleef & Arpels founders Alfred and Estelle, in particular, is fondly remembered for gifting disheartened staffers with a four-leaf clover gathered from his garden, which would be accompanied by Don’t Quit, a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier.
Luck was Arpels’ guiding force, with which he took upon himself to benefit everyone around him. So close to his heart he held this emblem, it manifested in Alhambra, a long necklace made up of 20 four-leaf clover-shaped motifs in creased gold, each beautifully finished with beaded edges.
“Created by Van Cleef & Arpels in 1968, in keeping with its tradition of excellence and savoir faire, the Alhambra long necklace captured the spirit of the age and introduced new ways of wearing jewels in everyday life,” shares Nicolas Bos, president and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels.
A beacon of Jacques Arpels’ mantra of never losing hope, the Alhambra is intended as a piece of meaningful bijoux that uplifts as it adorns. Part of the Paris La Boutique range, Alhambra was decidedly different from the other high jewellery designs the House is famed for and infinitely more accessible in terms of styling and price point.
Women, besotted with its clean-cut aesthetic, were tripping over themselves to get in on this exclusive sorority that celebrated luck. French thespian Francoise Hardy wore them layered and in contrasting hues, while Princess Grace of Monaco collected the Alhambra in assorted guises of yellow gold, coral and malachite. The Alhambra also held its own against actress Romy Schneider in the French movie Le Mouton Enrage (1974).
It’s led Bos to say, “Fifty years later, it stands as a reference that had profoundly influenced the history of jewellery.” In an ode to this jubilant milestone, the French jeweller has turned the spotlight on the Alhambra with new extensions, as imaginative combinations of grey mother-of-pearl, diamonds and pink gold, as well as onyx, diamonds and white gold, join its star-studded line-up.
Look out also for a quartet of never-seen-before models. The iconic Vintage Alhambra 20-motif long necklace in yellow gold oozes pseudo-regal charm in alternating stones of lapis lazuli and diamond. Another thoroughly modern rendition features yellow gold, rock crystal and diamond, with a five-motif bracelet to match.
Luck plays a big part in landing these exceptional pieces — they are produced in very, very small quantities, we are told. As Arpels used to say, “To be lucky, you have to believe in luck.”
For more on Watches & Jewellery, head here. Or check out The New Fine Jewellery That You Can Buy On Net-A-Porter and Your Next Essential Accessory: The Coin Necklace.