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Vintage Alhambra Ring
Iconic Designs

Vintage Alhambra Ring

About the Design

It’s not common that a motif as simple as a quatrefoil embellished with a beaded border can capture the hearts of fashionable clients around the world, but that’s precisely what happened with Van Cleef & Arpels’s signature Alhambra collection, which includes the Vintage Alhambra ring.

In 1968, Jacques Arpels (1914–2008), nephew of the venerable French jewelry house’s cofounder Estelle Arpels, wanted to design bold ready-to-wear pieces for the modern working woman. Inspired by the notion of luck and the Moorish architecture of the Spanish palace from which the collection draws its name, he decorated the original Alhambra necklace with 20 solid-gold quatrefoils on an opera-length chain, using the four-leaf clover as a talisman. A proverbial star is born, as they say.

Within a year of its debut, the Alhambra necklace made the cover of Vogue, worn by Swedish actress Britt Ekland. Van Cleef & Arpels then expanded the collection, populating its clover-shaped charms with panels of colorful stones like lapis lazuli and turquoise. Working women everywhere sought out the many varieties of the Alhambra necklace, especially after Princess Grace of Monaco was seen sporting several variations throughout the 1970s. In fact, the collection is still popular with royals today — Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, has been seen wearing her own Alhambra jewelry, sparking renewed interest in the line.

Continually in production since its debut in 1968, the Alhambra collection has gone on to include bracelets, earrings, a watch and rings, with the quatrefoil motif varying in scale, material and hue. There are now a number of subcategories in the collection, including Sweet Alhambra and Lucky Alhambra, the latter of which includes a number of other motifs related to luck, like the butterfly.

The Vintage Alhambra designation indicates that a piece of jewelry has a faithful representation of the original quatrefoil motif, outlined with a beaded border. In the case of the Vintage Alhambra ring, this is a single quatrefoil motif in yellow, white or rose gold. At the center of the ring is a diamond, which, like the Vintage Alhambra bracelet, is either surrounded by a colorful stone, more diamonds or the textured metal of the ring, all set within the beaded border of the quatrefoil. Having sustained its popularity for more than half a century, it’s likely that the Alhambra collection — and the beloved Vintage Alhambra ring — is here to stay at Van Cleef & Arpels.

Vintage Alhambra Ring

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