VCA Authenticity Check: Is My VCA Alhambra Real or Fake?

Founded in the City of Love in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels (VCA) is one of the best-selling fine jewelry brands today. Through the years, the sublime collections and haute joaillerie creations of Van Cleef & Arpels have gained loyal followers from all walks of life–including private citizens, Hollywood celebrities, and European royals.

Inarguably the most coveted and recognized creation of this renowned maison is the Alhambra, which features a sophisticated four-leaf clover or quatrefoil design. The Van Cleef Alhambra is a symbol of good fortune or luck. Princess Grace of Monaco and Catherine, Princess of Wales are some of the most influential women seen wearing an iconic VCA Alhambra necklace.

Expanding the iconic collection to include earrings, rings, and bracelets with an array of different gemstones — agate, Brazilian carnelian, chalcedony, onyx, and tiger eye, to name a few — Van Cleef & Arpels’ Alhambra is as versatile and stylish as the people who wear it.

The collection’s popularity has doubled in recent years. For instance, on, a piece of Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra jewelry can sell instantly. Not only has the charm of Alhambra endured, but it has also evolved throughout its 50+ year history, now offering elevated versions of its first four iconic clovers.


Vintage, Magic, Sweet, Pure, Byzantine, and Lucky Alhambra

VCA’s Vintage Alhambra collection remains true to the line’s original design: the beloved station necklace. Magic Alhambra explores the endless possibilities of proportions, combining smaller and larger quatrefoils in its pieces. Meanwhile, Sweet Alhambra features delicate, dainty, mini versions of the iconic collection. Pure Alhambra offers minimalists a clean, smooth finish, while Byzantine Alhambra has a blank space where a stone would be, revealing only the gold outline of a quatrefoil. Last but certainly not least, the Lucky Alhambra collection traverses symbols of luck beyond the four-leaf clover by integrating nature-inspired designs such as leaves, butterflies, hearts, and stars.


How to Spot Real VCA Alhambra Jewelry

With its global popularity and sterling reputation, you need to look out for counterfeits of the Van Cleef Alhambra. Keep reading to learn how to tell the difference between an authentic and fake VCA Alhambra.


Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Signatures and Hallmarks

 Van Cleef & Arpels is consistent when it comes to including signatures and hallmarks on their jewelry. All VCA pieces have a serial number, hallmark, and trademark. Brand stamping has had some modifications through the years, but it should read either “Van Cleef & Arpels” or simply “VCA.”

While many consumers refer to the brand as “Van Cleef,” if you see a piece marked without its other half “Arpels,” consider it as a sign of inauthenticity. All Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry is made from 18 karat gold, so each one should have the marking “750” or “Au750.”


VCA Brand and Precious Metal Marking

The artisans behind each piece of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry have decades of experience and proudly hallmark each creation. For the Alhambra collection, the signature is typically visible as “VCA” either on one corner of a motif adjacent to the clasp or a tag close to the masculine end of the clasp. You will also find the piece’s unique serial number, as well as the purity of the precious metal used, on the aforementioned clasp.

Van Cleef & Arpels’ hallmarks are not always obvious. For Alhambra necklaces and bracelets, the hallmark is on the ring near the clasp. For rings, the hallmark is on the inside of the band towards the bottom. And for earrings, the hallmark is on one or both of the closures. Keep in mind that hallmarks on rings may wear with constant use, while the placements on other pieces do not experience wear that completely erases the hallmark’s visibility.


Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Materials

 As you should expect from one of the most popular high-end jewelry houses in the world, Van Cleef & Arpels exclusively uses the finest gemstones and precious metals to create Alhambra jewelry. Based on the GIA grading scale, VCA only uses diamonds with a color range of D to F and a clarity range of Internally Flawless to VVS2 for their creations.

When deciding how and where a diamond or any stone should be cut, meticulous and particular describes Van Cleef & Arpels’ craftsmen perfectly. Gemstones such as chalcedony, which show striations and optical characteristics naturally, undergo close observation and careful planning before being cut.

Any Alhambra jewelry that does not meet VCA’s strict gemstone criteria, such as, for instance, a diamond with a color grade below F or has visible inclusions, could be a fake. Furthermore, the gemstones should sit in each quatrefoil perfectly with no looseness or spaces in the setting.


VCA Alhambra Craftsmanship

Surprisingly, VCA is one of the very few luxury jewelry brands to polish each piece down to fine silk thread. Van Cleef & Arpels’ artisans weave paper-thin threads into each crevice to guarantee that all surfaces have a stunning, mirrored finish. This quality craftsmanship is most apparent in the Pearls of Gold featured in several Van Cleef & Arpels collections, including Alhambra.

If you own a piece of jewelry from Van Cleef & Arpels and notice poor polishing attributes, consider having it authenticated, especially if the piece is new and you did not buy it from a VCA boutique or a reputable reseller.


A Final Word of Advice on Real vs. Fake Alhambra Jewelry

Before you pay in cash or provide your credit card information, always check to make sure the piece is flawless. All VCA Alhambra jewelry has beautifully finished joints, prongs, and chains at every angle. Moreover, always examine the shape of an Alhambra piece, as it is an important characteristic used to distinguish authentic Alhambra collections. Fake or counterfeit Alhambra jewelry often has an incorrect or awkward shape. 

Van Cleef & Arpels’ thorough and ciphered process shines in every piece of jewelry that leaves the atelier in Paris. As a result, the Alhambra collection does fetch luxury prices, whether new or pre-owned.


VCA Jewelry Buyer in Phoenix, AZ

Are you a lucky owner of a Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra piece? If yes, and you are looking to sell VCA jewelry in Scottsdale, consider Biltmore Loan and Jewelry as your buyer. Our trusted establishment has appraised and purchased dozens of Van Cleef & Arpels signed pieces from clients throughout Arizona and the United States. Get a market appraisal today.