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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Van Cleef & Arpels "Alhambra" Jewelry is forever popular!

Let me start by stating one thing: we don't own a single piece of Van Cleef & Arpel's "ALHAMBRA" jewelry, so this post isn't a sales pitch for an item in our DIVINE FINDS JEWELRY SHOPS at RUBY LANE and RUBY PLAZA

What got me onto this subject was a surf I made of eBay about an hour ago. I wanted to see how jewelry sales are going there, specifically all fine jewelry and especially designer signed pieces by the likes of Cartier, Tiffany, Van Cleef & Arpels etc. 

The first thing I noticed was that with only the rare exception, if an item does sell, it's one that has been "sent to auction", not one that is a "buy it now". In our Ruby Lane Shops, all items are "buy it now". So looks like ebay vendors are experiencing the same thing we are: sales are slow to non-existent in the higher end market ... most unusual for this close to Christmas I must say!

But now, how did that get me to Van Cleef & Arpels' "Alhambra" line of jewelry? (That's what Mariah is showing off in that photo above). Well, what was selling on eBay, at incredible prices, be it a "buy it now" or auction, were those Alhambras ... and the prices? Oooh la la! Take the one shown below:


That baby had 3 offers on it and it sold for a mere $48,000! Now granted, it has a total of 10.4cts of diamonds, and being VCA, those diamonds will be only the best. Apparently, currrent retail on this 20-motif necklace is around $90,000, so I guess it was a steal at $48,000. Then there was this "extremely rare" 5-motif jade  Alhambra bracelet no longer made by VCA shown below:


The owner/seller says she paid $4000 for it and hoped to get more. Well she did. She got $5500. If you fancy one of these, and can afford it (I can't!) this EBAY SELLER is asking a mere $8299 for the 12-motif turquoise Alhambra below:


After seeing all that, I decided to do a little research on VCA's Alhambra line. According to this very interesting article HERE, the line was introduced in the 60's but didn't do all that much. Then in 2001, when VCA added some more pieces to the line, celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Sharon Stone rediscovered it and bam, it's now being worn on the necks of all who can afford it worldwide. According to the same article, written in 2007, 

"The classic line retails from about $1,200 for a pair of earrings to $61,200 for a necklace of diamond clovers, weighing in at 10.5 carats total. Each clover, modeled after the quatrefoil in Moorish architecture, is often referred to as a “station,” which to a Catholic ominously evokes the stations of the cross but somehow seems appropriate, considering the ardor with which Alhambra is collected."

Sadly, as is so often the case when designer pieces, purses, watches etc become that popular, the knockoffs start appearing everywhere. VCA launched a law-suit for $25,000 against super-model, Heidi Klum (shown on left) in December 2007, for her own line of jewelry,  as VCA felt she was seeking to benefit from their reputation.  There's no denying the similarity is there. But of course, Heidi's line would be somewhat more affordable. And as I researched this further, I found current artisans on Etsy who are designing their own 4-leaf clover jewelry that looks just like VCA's but infinitely less expensive. Let's  hope VCA doesn't go after these "little" guys who sell their necklaces for a mere $48, allowing the "poorer" woman to wear what looks expensive and isn't.

But when you think about it, that's exactly how the gorgeous costume jewelry of the 40's to 60's came about. Vintage designers like Sherman, Schiaparelli, Schreiner, Trifari made it possible for the "ordinary" woman to look like she was wearing a fortune on her neck by, in effect, copying the glorious designs and colors of Cartier and others, but using rhinestones and glass crystals where Cartier used diamonds and gemstones. After all, what's the sincerest form of flattery? Imitation. And while so many of us ooh and aah over celebrity jewelry, how many of us can afford the real thing?!

Well that last sentence brings me to my only "pitch" in this post. I asked "how many of us can afford the real thing"? Well if you shop at our DIVINE FINDS JEWELRY SHOPS, quite a few of you can. You see, there's one more thing I noticed while surfing eBay today: our prices for our fine jewelry by Cartier, VCA, Tiffany, Birks, Jose Hess etc are often way less than sellers on eBay are asking. That goes so against the common perception that prices on Ruby Lane are way higher than on ebay. Not really.  Our simple, but elegant Van Cleef & Arpels triple diamond wedding band below


is only $1265 in our DIVINE FINDS JEWELRY CLEARANCE CENTER right now. If you search closely on eBay, you'll find their prices are the same as, or higher, than ours. Interestingly enough, I noticed that if 2 ebay sellers have the same item, e.g. a Cartier Love bracelet, and one puts it up for auction and the other sells it as a "buy it now", bidders will bid happily and often as not, they end up paying the same or more than if they'd purchased it as a "buy it now"! 

In the end, it all comes back to that wise adage: "it pays to shop around!" When you do, make sure you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges. And finally, we hope you'll continue to check out our CLEARANCE SALE at Ruby Plaza, along with our primary DIVINE FINDS JEWELRY SHOP at RUBY LANE. 




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