Van Cleef & Arpels is a luxury jewelry brand that is renowned for its iconic Alhambra collection. The Alhambra motif features four-leaf clovers, and the pieces are often crafted with mother-of-pearl, onyx, or diamonds. Due to their popularity and high value, there are many counterfeit Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra pieces in circulation. In this blog post, we will discuss how to spot a real Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra bracelet or necklace.
Look for hallmarks.
Real Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra pieces will have hallmarks that indicate the brand and the gold purity. Look for the "VCA" and "Van Cleef & Arpels" hallmarks. Be wary of pieces that only have "Van Cleef" written on them, as this is a red flag. There should also be a hallmark that indicates the gold purity, such as "Au750" or simply "750".
Check for a unique serial number.
Each Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra piece will have a unique serial number. This number should be engraved somewhere on the piece, such as on the clasp or on a small tag near the clasp. Be sure to check that the serial number is present and matches any paperwork that comes with the piece.
Look for an eagle mark.
Van Cleef & Arpels uses an eagle mark to certify the gold purity of their pieces. This mark should be present on the piece, usually near the hallmark that indicates the gold purity. The eagle mark will differ depending on the country of origin, so be sure to research what the mark should look like for the specific piece you are interested in.
Check the chain.
Take a close look at the chain of the Alhambra piece. You will notice that each link has a pointy end and a rounded end. The pointy end will have a solder mark, indicating that each link was done by hand. This is a clear sign of authenticity, as counterfeit pieces often use machine-made links.
Count the beads.
Each Alhambra clover has a certain number of beads around each leaf, and this number will be consistent for the same kind of Alhambra piece from the same collection. For example, an Alhambra onyx bracelet and an Alhambra mother-of-pearl bracelet will have the same number of beads on each clover. Be wary of pieces with an inconsistent number of beads, as this may be a sign of a fake.
Look at the prongs.
Pay attention to how the clovers are mounted and notice the prongs. Each clover is set by hand, so one side of the clover will have rounded prongs, while the other side will have slightly elongated prongs. This is a good sign of authenticity, as counterfeit pieces often have symmetrical prongs.
Check the serial number.
Each authentic Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra piece has a unique serial number. The serial number will start with two letters, which indicate the year the piece was produced. For example, older pieces may have letters like BL and CL, while newer pieces will have newer letter combinations. Check that the design and wear of the item match the era and age indicated by the serial number.
In conclusion, spotting a real Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra piece requires a keen eye for detail and knowledge of the brand's markings and serial numbers. Be sure to check the chain, count the beads, look at the prongs, and check the serial number. Always research the seller and if in doubt, consider getting the piece authenticated by an expert.