This stylish 18ct yellow gold necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels was made in 1998 and is part of their iconic Alhambra collection. It is designed as a uniform, continuous row of interlinked quatrefoil openwork motifs with a highly polished finish, domed profile and concealed clasp.
This necklace is a more unusual variation on the Alhambra theme with large links forming a shorter collar length necklace that sits around the base of the neck. It feels both classic and contemporary and is a versatile and elegant piece that could be worn both day and night.
The first Alhambra necklace was a long gold sautoir made in 1968 and influenced by shapes and patterns that Jacques Arpels noted on his travels. At the Doge’s Palace in Venice and the Alhambra in Grenada he saw repeated use of traditional quatrefoil motifs which called to mind the four-leaf clovers he loved to look for in his garden at home in France.
A great believer in lucky charms and talismans, Jacques would pick these ‘lucky’ four-leaf clovers to give to friends and colleagues so it seems unsurprising that this motif would work its way into the Maison’s jewellery sooner or later. The original gold necklace from 1968 was soon joined by brightly coloured versions inlaid with gem materials such as malachite, lapis, turquoise, carnelian, mother of pearl and onyx. These soon caught the attention of some of the most glamourous women of the time including Princess Grace of Monaco who was often photographed wearing multiple Alhambra necklaces layered together.
Since then, this traditional and timeless symbol of luck has been re-imagined many times over and the collection, which now includes rings, watches, bracelets, pendants and more, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The enduring appeal of the motif and its association with good luck means it is still the most recognised and popular of Van Cleef’s collections and Alhambra jewels have recently been spotted on the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Charlene of Monaco as well as stars such as Reese Witherspoon and Mariah Carey.