Interviews

Distinctive Craftsmanship

Van Cleef & Arpels ME & India Managing Director, Alessandro Maffi reveals the secret behind the iconic Alhambra collection’s charm.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ Pieces Are Meticulously Detailed. Can You Tell Us Which Of Its Pieces Has Been The Most Demanding Or Extravagant To Make Whether From Alhambra Collection Or Any Other?

In the 1930s, The Duchess of Windsor suggested to Renée Puissant - the Maison’s artistic director and daughter of Alfred Van Cleef - that she should create a piece based on the zip fastener, which was invented in late 19th century America, and was taking the couture world by storm at the time. It took the Maison’s artisans more than 10 years to perfect a fully functioning zipper in precious metals and gems – making of this necklace a feat of high jewelry engineering.

How Do The Creations Of Alhambra Come To Life? Can You Take Us Through The Creative Process?

In keeping with Van Cleef & Arpels’ tradition of excellence, the Alhambra collection embodies all the expertise of a High Jewelry Maison. The varied skills of lapidaries, jewelers, stone-setters and polishers come together to create each piece. Ever inspired by nature, the Maison has sought out the most beautiful materials she has to offer: mother-of-pearl, turquoise, onyx, carnelian, chalcedony, malachite or bois d’amourette (letterwood). Along with diamonds, they have all been chosen according to the very highest standards of quality. During this selection process, only 1% of the material is retained to make up the future Alhambra motifs.

Alhambra Has Been The Lucky Charm Of The Maison Since 1968. What Do You Think Gives It Such Everlasting Quality?

Luck is a quality that the Maison holds dear, guiding its footsteps and inspiring some of its most emblematic creations. Throughout the history of Van Cleef & Arpels, four-leaf clovers mingled with wooden talismans, lucky charms and benevolent fairies. In 1968, the Maison created a true icon of luck: Alhambra. The rst long necklace was born, combining yellow gold with the pure lines of the Alhambra motif. A symbol of harmony edged with golden pearls, it was an immediate success, and an emblem of Van Cleef & Arpels, that is still in high demand among females of all ages 50 years later.

What Qualities Do Van Cleef And Arpels Creations Possess That Make Them Unique?

For over a century, Van Cleef & Arpels has been combining unparalleled craftsmanship, technical prowess and innovation in all its creations. This Savoir-Faire and dedication to achieving nothing but excellence, allowed the Maison to always put the poetic narration and the way the story is told rst, and create some of what is considered the most iconic jewelry pieces in the world.

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