Established in Paris in 1906 by Alfred Van Cleef and his in-laws the Arpels family, Van Cleef & Arpels is world-renowned as one of the great luxury jewelry houses. The company was founded during the Edwardian period with lacy platinum designs, exceptional craftsmanship and the use of high quality, brilliant gemstones. As the Art Deco period unfolded, VCA began to craft sublime jewels defined by the use of geometric patterns set with colorful precious gemstones, semi-precious jade and black onyx, and sometimes, in much-coveted Egyptian motifs.
For over a century, the jewelry house has been a leader in technical innovation. In the early 1930s, the company created the “mystery setting” — a technique which utilizes uniformly colored, specially cut gemstones placed along metal tracks so the mounting is completely underneath and invisible. Another brilliant innovation was the “Zipper” design. This necklace style features a functional zipper element, crafted in gold and precious stones, which allows the wearer to make adjustments to the size of the neck opening
Other iconic VCA designs include the “Ludo” bracelet, quick to become a signature style with small, flexible, interlocking hexagonal motifs. The “Snowflake” design is another of the brand’s longest lasting styles used in necklaces, bracelets and earrings. First crafted in the 1940s, this design evokes a snowflake through the use of gold and diamond clusters. Though the design has been modernized and updated, the collection is still one of the most renowned.
Perhaps the most famous collection conceived by VCA is the “Alhambra”. For decades the company created inspired jewels of exceptional quality and style, yet the introduction of the Alhambra in 1968 was a different, subtler and ultimately more wearable design. Simple chains are set with quatrefoil clover motifs fashioned in gold and various semi-precious materials including mother-of-pearl, black onyx, carnelian, malachite and tiger’s eye, among others.
Beloved and admired the world over, Van Cleef & Arpels is one of the great fine jewelry design firms in history.