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Why Is Van Cleef & Arpels So Expensive? (Little Known Facts)

Van Cleef is a jewelry brand many of us saw our mothers and other sophisticated women wearing.

Whether it was authentic or an imitation is another story. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Many of us aspire to reach those heights.

Van Cleef and Arpels store front
Image via Van Cleef and Arpels

While we do that, we can learn more about this iconic French jewelry house and understand why Van Cleef is so expensive.

The Van Cleef Story

The story of the Van Cleef brand began with a man and woman who fell in love.

That man was Alfred Van Cleef and his sweetheart was Estelle Arpels. As fate would have it, Alfred was the son of a stone cutter and Estelle was the daughter of a precious stone dealer.

When these families united, the beginnings of a business came to be, and they named it Van Cleef & Arpels.

In time, a little boutique, was opened across the road from the Ritz Hotel (Paris), Place Vendome.

. It wasn’t long before the stream of aristocrats and even great pretenders fell in love with their unique jewelry designs.

The jewelry house gained a reputation for creating exquisite pieces for royalty, old money and celebrities.

Some of the most notable included world-famous actresses like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly.

Queen Sophia of Spain was even a regular customer!

Van Cleef & Arpels pieces didn’t follow the same playbook as other popular jewelers.

They had a lot of fun with their designs and would feature any precious gemstone you could think of.

It wasn’t just diamonds, emeralds, rubies and princess-cut stones. Flowers were very popular, as well as animals, and even fairies.

Is the Van Cleef brand expensive?

Wealth is largely subjective. So, “expensive” to one person may be spare change to another.

When it comes to Van Cleef, we can agree that the outrageous price tags are only a walk in the park for the upper echelon of society.

No matter how you flip it, Van Cleef is expensive.

How much do pendants cost?

The Alhambra collection is the brand’s signature collection and features pendants, watches, rings, earrings and bracelets.

This collection first appeared in 1968 and is one of the most popular among customers.

The pendant features a simple, classic four-leaf clover design, bordered by gold leaves.

The piece represents luck, health and love. The price depends on the type, but its retail value is estimated at $17,000-$86,000.

How much do rings cost?

You’re not going to find the same designs (and quality) of Van Cleef rings anywhere else.

This is where you get one-of-a-kind engagement rings you’ll rarely see another woman with.

A diamond from Tiffany may be a girl’s best friend, but Van Cleef makes her stand out.

For a simple style of wedding band, you can get one for a little under $1000.

Prices can easily pass $600,000, but it all depends on what you’re looking for

How much do watches cost?

The cheapest Van Cleef watches are a little under $9000. Many of these prices have to be requested as they are made to your specifications.

The most expensive one we could find costs $392,800, but we’re willing to bet that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

So, Why is Van Cleef so expensive?

What makes Van Cleef & Arpels gemstone jewelry more expensive than other brands?

Is it made of the highest quality materials, or are you paying for the name?

This is what goes into the price tags of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry pieces:

Raw materials

You won’t find any nickel-based or copper jewelry in any Van Cleef & Arpels collection.

The brand serves a clientele that is willing to spend any amount to access the finest jewelry.

Gold Karat (18k Gold)

Along with 18k gold, the only metal Van Cleef uses is platinum. This is one way to tell if the jewelry is authentic.

This includes everything from necklaces to brooches. Variation exists in tone, and you have choices of rose, white and yellow gold.

Diamond Quality

Van Cleef only uses the finest diamonds in its jewelry. That’s their standard.

In terms of color grade, strictly D, E and F. As for clarity, the Van Cleef standard is FL (Flawless) to VVS (Very Very Slightly Included).

The difference between these diamonds and others isn’t visible to the naked eye unless you know what you’re looking for.

Most inclusions and blemishes can only be observed under a 10x magnifier. If you plan to buy second-hand Van Cleef products, see an expert if possible.

Other materials

Remember when we said Van Cleef doesn’t only use precious gemstones like diamonds and sapphires?

They also use agate, turquoise, onyx, carnelian, etc. Mother of pearl is very popular.

Some of the best white ones come from Australia, but Van Cleef gets gray mother of pearl from French Polynesia.

We can safely say if the materials don’t meet the outlined standards, they aren’t from Van Cleef.

Craftsmanship: Is It Good?

If craftsmanship is your thing, let’s talk about the Mystery Setting or Serti Mysterieux.

This tells us why Van Cleef is so expensive.

The Van Cleef Mystery Set is a wonder. It was created using a technique from 1933 that involves setting the gemstones in a way that the prongs are hidden.

We don’t need to tell you how revolutionary this is. Many other jewelry brands have tried this technique, but none are on the level of Van Cleef.

This technique requires the work of a master jeweler with both the skill and eye of an expert.

According to Van Cleef, a single piece can take over 300 hours to create. The jeweler must be able to perfectly color match gemstones to create a seamless illusion.

Because of this, only a few pieces are created each year. In 2009, a Ballerina Brooch sold for ~$422,500.

Van Cleef also has transformable jewelry. The Passe Partout necklace is an excellent example of this.

It’s made using a flexible snake gold chain and features two flower clips.

Depending on your mood, you can wear it as a necklace, choker or bracelet.

Some people even wear their necklace as a brooch!

Another example of transformable jewelry is the Zip Necklace. Its zipper design means you can wear it around your neck or around your wrist as a bracelet.

Margie Robbie famously wore a Zip Necklace worth $1.5 million to the Oscars in 2015.

Am I paying for the brand?

With every major brand, you can expect some of that cost to be because of what the brand represents.

Many people claim Van Cleef is worth every dime. Their craftsmanship is out of this world, and you aren’t going to find loose stones or blemishes on your product.

This is the type of jewelry that is passed down through several generations of a family.

This is what we call provenance. Keeping the receipt, original box, jewelry bag and whatever else came with it raises its value.

Why is Van Cleef so Expensive?: Ethical Sourcing

According to Van Cleef’s Corporate Social Responsibility Policy, the company respects the environment, the people who source the materials and UN labor laws.

The company makes sizeable donations to sustainable development organizations and has steps in place to reduce carbon emissions.

They’ve even signed a “No Dirty Gold” pledge.

Playing by the rules is more expensive, but if we only had to give one answer to “Why is Van Cleef so expensive?”

, ethical sourcing wouldn’t be #1.

Resale Value: Do Van Cleef products transcend time?

Van Cleef’s products definitely transcend time. Unlike other brands that give you a 15%-20% profit, with the original box, you can get up to 75% of the purchase price.

Van Cleef is popularly passed down through generations, and we can see why.

As a general rule of thumb when it comes to Van Cleef: If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Van Cleef products are stamped with “VCA” or “Van Cleef & Arpels”. Each piece has a unique serial number, so you can always call in to verify if your piece is authentic.

Popular second-hand platforms like Poshmark sell everything from jewelry to the boxes.

A single Van Cleef box can go for as much as $100, even though it’s free with a purchase.

If you want to compare sale prices and second-hand prices, you’ll have to enquire by phone, according to the company’s website.

Van Cleef vs Cartier

Van Cleef is more expensive than luxury brands like Cartier, Rolex and Hermès.

A Cartier ring can go for as “little” as $760 to $314,000. A Van Cleef ring, on the other hand, can go for anywhere from $670 to $805,000.

Cartier sells necklaces for between $2,610 to $279,000. Van Cleef has them for $660 to $860,000.

In terms of resale value, Real Style has them both at 74% of the original price.

This is second to Goyard and above Louis Vuitton, Hermès and Chanel. Cartier is #9.

Final words: Why is Van Cleef so expensive?

Why is Van Cleef so expensive? Well, Van Cleef is a pioneer in the jewelry industry.

They’ve made trendy pieces that are relevant to the time they are made. They’ve maintained the highest quality standard and serve a prestigious clientele.

Van Cleef isn’t expensive because it is the Van Cleef brand. It’s expensive because of the tedious workmanship that goes into creating pieces that last a lifetime.

FAQs

What is so special about Van Cleef?

Van Cleef is special because of their expert craftsmanship. The company has mastered several techniques to create seamless and even transformational jewelry.

Not every jewelry brand can say that.

Is Van Cleef worth it?

Van Cleef is definitely worth it to those who can afford it and can see the value in high-quality jewelry.

Van Cleef jewelry can be considered an asset whose value appreciates over the years.

It can be passed down through generations or resold at a higher price tag.

Why is Van Cleef so popular now?

Van Cleef has always been popular amongst its clientele. The average Joe would not know about Van Cleef if not for social media.

Thank Gen Z for the trend to advertise luxury brands in mainstream media.

Is Van Cleef made of real gold?

Yes. Van Cleef jewelry is made strictly of 18k gold and platinum. Any other material is a fake, but if you want to check its authenticity, contact customer service with the serial number.