Since 1968, the Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection has evolved with the passing eras, while remaining an elegant icon of luck. Today – for the first time – it welcomes four secret pendant watch models. They celebrate the poetry of a time that remains hidden, revealing itself when so desired on the chain of a long necklace. Alongside these unique pieces, two Sweet Alhambra watches are adorned with ornamental stones, complemented by the gleam of delicately beaded yellow gold.
Four new creations are joining the Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection – which for the first time welcomes the notion of a personal time, concealed at the heart of the emblematic, four-leafed clover-inspired motifs. Following in the footsteps of the chain watches that appeared in Europe in the 17th century, these jewels that tell the time take the form of precious pendants, accompanying their wearer’s silhouette. They combine the Maison’s characteristically elegant jewellery style with its secret watch tradition. The time is revealed at will: a simple action pivots the stone-set motif to unveil the dial.
In keeping with the Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection’s iconic aesthetic, each creation is adorned with precious materials. Two of them showcase the intense radiance of guilloché gold: the first discloses a dial in white mother-of-pearl beneath a motif in guilloché rose gold, while the second conceals a dial in guilloché yellow gold inside a sparkling case, entirely set with diamonds. A third piece combines the softness of rose gold with the warm tones of carnelian, enclosing a dial in white mother-of-pearl, delicately embellished with diamonds. Each piece is bordered by a double beaded contour, accentuating the curves of the Alhambra pendant.
A fourth model – created in limited quantities – is adorned with a material that is hard to find in a quality that meets Van Cleef & Arpels’ criteria: turquoise. Its azure blue complements the warmth of yellow gold in a luminous harmony. Diamonds set on the side of the case and around the dial provide the creation with extra dazzle.
A jump ring – set with diamonds and bordered with a delicate beaded contour – completes each pendant, making the pieces flexible and comfortable to wear.
Dazzling materials in the Sweet Alhambra Collection
Over the years, the Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra collection has been enriched with different-sized motifs – among them Sweet Alhambra, with its delicate dimensions. Echoing the design of the collection, the case of the two new creations is fringed with a double beaded contour, and set with diamonds on its side. The dials are crafted from rare and precious materials: turquoise for one, and lapis lazuli for the other. Inside the bezel, a row of diamonds borders the dial, providing a dazzling complement to the beauty of the ornamental stones, and accentuating the plays of contrast with the yellow gold.
For multiple wearing options, Van Cleef & Arpels offers a selection of interchangeable bracelets with its Sweet Alhambra watches; their colours – notably dark or l ight blue, black and burgundy – have been chosen for their elegant simplicity. Removable with a simple press of the fingers, they will match any outfit or mood from season to season.
A palette of rare stones
Reflecting all the expertise of Van Cleef & Arpels’ gemologists, the ornamental stones have been chosen in line with the Maison’s stringent criteria. The carnelian is selected for the evenness of its warm hue, while the turquoise displays an intense sky blue. The lapis lazuli is of a deep midnight blue, subtly interspersed with pyrite golden flakes suffusing the material with a distinctive charm.
For each creation, the diamonds used by Van Cleef & Arpels meet the highest gemological standards: D to F for color and IF to VVS for clarity. They endow the creations with an intense and vivid sparkle.
Van Cleef & Arpels expertise and sovoire-faire
From the stone selection to the setting, from the jewelry craftsmanship to the adjustment of the watch movement, these rare pieces offer a blend of savoir-faire that rekindles the art of telling the time.
In keeping with the Maison’s high standards, the ornamental stone motifs are intricately cut and polished to form harmonious ensembles. Alongside the motifs in guilloché gold, they take up their places against the precious backdrop of a beaded setting.
The diamond creations are elegantly paved using the snow setting technique, which consists of bringing stones of different diameters together to cover as much of the surface as possible. The diamonds reveal their brilliance thanks to the gold structure’s openwork; it allows the light to pass through when the watch is opened, producing an intense sparkle. This traditional jewellery technique is testimony to the careful attention paid to every detail. The intricate polishing of both each individual component and the finished piece illuminates the beauty of the ensemble.
In all, some fifteen stages of selection, workmanship and checking succeed one another, resulting in a unique piece that will stand the test of time.
Alhambra, an icon of luck since 1968
“To be lucky, you have to believe in luck,” as Jacques Arpels – Estelle Arpels’ nephew – used to say. Ever cherished by the Maison, luck is a value that has often guided its footsteps and inspired some of its most characteristic creations.
In 1968, Van Cleef & Arpels created the first Alhambra long necklace, inspired by the four-leaf clover shape. Like a harmonious token of luck, it was made up of 20 motifs in textured yellow gold, delicately fringed with golden beads. The symbol was an immediate success, establishing itself throughout the world as an icon of luck and emblem of Van Cleef & Arpels.