BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- The 1960s was a thriving and creative decade for the luxurious French jewelry house Van Cleef & Arpels. The era brought forth bejeweled creations like whimsical animal pins, rope twist designs, spectacular evening bags and the iconic Alhambra necklace. It was a time when alternative ways of thinking and living were encouraged, and an explosion of new styles came into fashion as a response -- "groovy" colors, mod flowers, charms and ethnic influences mixed with the elegant classics.
In 1968 the all-gold Alhambra necklace was introduced to the market, quickly becoming one of the company’s most treasured and wearable designs. The all-gold model was soon followed by a festive variety of colors, including turquoise, coral, lapis, onyx and mother-of-pearl among others. The Alhambra's distinctive four-leaf clover motif was a reflection of Jacques Arpel’s belief in lucky talismans and was an instant favorite for some of the world’s most famous women. Jewelry collectors from Princess Grace of Monaco to Elizabeth Taylor could be seen wearing them with caftans, day dresses, and everything in between. The enchanting contours of the charm motif symbolize luck, health, fortune and love. To this day it is one of the most requested, recognized and beloved designs in Van Cleef & Arpels' history, with vintage examples in high demand and new ‘Magic Alhambra’ styles expanding yearly.
In 1954 Van Cleef & Arpels launched their new "La Boutique" line in Paris, which offered more moderately priced pieces than their famed and important Haute Joaillerie. An idea presented by Jacques and Pierre Arpels, La Boutique at 22 Place Vendome presented a yearly jewelry collection that was reasonably priced for the young in spirit. In the 1960s, La Boutique found grand success with their whimsical cartoon-style animal pins and clips of gold, gemstones and diamonds, among them birds, rabbits, tigers, squirrels, dogs and more. One of the most popular and recognizable of these is the iconic Lion Ebouriffé, which first appeared in 1962.
In the 1960s, Van Cleef & Arpels saw the birth of gold evening bags that were larger than the previous minaudieres & clutches. Made of woven yellow gold inspired by textured fabrics, they were expansive in size, accommodating more items while creating a bold status statement. These luxurious bags were commonly decorated with diamond and platinum clasps, and fitted with handles made of rope twist gold. They sometimes came “en suite” with necklaces and tassel bracelets of similar design.
Doyle's November 13, 2017, auction of Jewelry in Beverly Hills offers a particularly large and rare example of a gold purse by Van Cleef & Arpels. This unusual purse opens in two places, revealing a mirror and an unusually spacious inner compartment. The diamond and gold tassel can be removed from the purse and and suspended on the accompanying gold necklace for multiple looks. This versatility of jewelry was an added benefit that was often incorporated into their finer jewelry designs.
Vintage jewelry by Van Cleef & Arpels consistently remains in high demand due to its high quality, marvelous design and enduring chic. Doyle's auctions in New York and Beverly Hills regularly offer vintage pieces by Van Cleef & Arpels in a variety of price ranges. We invite you to attend one of our upcoming exhibitions or view the pieces in our online auction catalogues.
Jewelry - Beverly Hills
Auction: November 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills
New York: Sat, Oct 28, 10am - 5pm / Sun, Oct 29, Noon - 5pm
Beverly Hills: Sat-Sun, Nov 11-12, Noon - 5pm