A short history of luxury: The Alhambra collection or luck in a jewel, signed Van Cleef & Arpels

A value dear to the legendary jewelry house, luck has often guided Van Cleef & Arpels’ steps and inspired some of its most emblematic creations, including the Alhambra collection, inspired by the four-leaf clover.


As early as the 1920s, the four-leaf clover motifs appear in the company’s archives, along with wooden talismans, charms and benevolent fairies. A collector at heart, Jacques Arpels, nephew of the founding couple, used to pick four-leaf clovers in the garden of his home to give to his collaborators as good luck charms, which gave birth to the Alhambra collection.


Sign produced from a Trefoil pendant, 1948 © Archives Van Cleef & Arpels


“To be lucky, you have to believe in luck” said Jacques Arpels. In 1968, the House created the first Alhambra sautoir, inspired by the four-leaf clover and composed of 20 crumpled yellow gold motifs, delicately edged with gold beads. This symbol was an immediate success, establishing itself around the world as an icon of good fortune, emblematic of the jewelry house. The collection is worn by the most famous celebrities, including Grace of Monaco, Romy Schneider, or Françoise Hardy.


Grace of Monaco © Van Cleef & Arpels


Over time, the Alhambra collection has grown to include different sizes of designs, including Sweet Alhambra which is distinguished by its delicate dimensions.


Polishing of the Vintage Alhambra ring © Van Cleef & Arpels


Its characteristic shape is a cloverleaf, but it contains mysteries that would have their origin in the Middle East. The stylized shamrock is actually a Byzantine-inspired quatrefoil, an ornamental motif found in some of the azulejo ceramics of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, or combined with a square to form the refreshing fountains of the palace gardens.



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Featured photo : © Van Cleef & Arpels

Passionnée par l’art et la mode, Hélène s’oriente vers une école de stylisme: l’Atelier Chardon-Savard. Elle complète ensuite sa formation par un MBA en Marketing à l’ISG. Elle a écrit pour le magazine Do it in Paris et se spécialise en rédaction d’articles concernant le luxe, l’art et la mode au sein de Luxus +.


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