A Guide to Van Cleef & Arpels Authentication: Alhambra Edition

this is an image of an authentic versus fake van cleef & alhambra pendant necklace side by side comparison by fashionphile

The science behind authenticating Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry demands extensive knowledge and a meticulous, detail-oriented approach to every aspect of its design.


FASHIONPHILE boasts a team of gemologists certified in ultra-luxury brands who hold specialized knowledge about Van Cleef & Arpels and the critical factors to consider in the authentication of its pieces. If you’re intrigued by our process and eager to broaden your understanding of fine jewelry authentication, a valuable starting point involves placing emphasis on three fundamental aspects: the quality of the gemstones, the precision of the engravings, and the integrity of the metals. These three checkpoints represent important checkmarks in the authentication process and are indispensable for verifying authentic Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra jewelry

How FASHIONPHILE Authenticates Van Cleef & Arpels Diamonds

There are many types of stones that Van Cleef & Arpels uses in their Alhambra collection, even special Alhambra stones for the holidays! But when it comes to diamonds, the Maison Van Cleef & Arpels only uses the highest quality natural diamonds. In creating its pieces, Van Cleef & Arpels exclusively select gemstones that range from flawless to those with very minimal inclusions. Similarly, the quality of the gem cuts should always fall within the excellent to very good rating range.

close up image of platinum diamond van cleef & arpels alhambra pendant necklace by fashionphile
close up image of fake van cleef & arpels stones showing the illusion of diamonds but really made of cubic zirconia by FASHIONPHILE

During the authentication process, our experts reference the 4 C’s, which are color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Whenever our authenticators spot fake Van Cleef and Arpels, in many cases, it’s for reasons pertaining to the stones not meeting the necessary quality standards or they use completely incorrect and poor quality materials that Van Cleef & Arpels would never use, such as diamond simulant like cubic zirconia.

How to Authenticate Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Hallmarks

Van Cleef & Arpels takes great pride in its meticulous craftsmanship, leaving no detail overlooked. Each Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry piece comes with a unique metal hallmark containing a serial number. On Alhambra necklaces, these markings consist of a combination of letters and numbers typically etched on a small metal plate to indicate the type of metal present. For instance, a Van Cleef & Arpels hallmark may read “VCA Au750.” On the periodic table of elements, Au stands for gold. 

It’s crucial that these markings are clear, use the correct font style, and are free from any spelling mistakes, although since it’s pre-owned, some wear may be present. Our experts are well-versed in the evolution of these markings, which have changed over time. Consequently, depending on the age of the item, you’ll find either the complete brand name “Van Cleef & Arpels” or its abbreviation “VCA” stamped, but never a partial version like “Van Cleef.” Paying close and careful attention to these details present on the hallmark can help ensure the authenticity of your Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry piece.

image of authentic van cleef & arpels hallmark engraving that reads VCA Au750 by FASHIONPHILE
image of fake van cleef & arpels hallmark engraving that reads VCA Au750 by FASHIONPHILE

Authenticating the Metals on Van Cleef & Arpels Alhambra Pieces

One thing about sterling silver is that it is known for tarnishing pretty quickly, so for that reason, you’ll never see Van Cleef & Arpels use it. The Maison exclusively employs either 18K gold or platinum. 18 karat (18K) gold means that 75% of the alloy must be pure gold. You can learn more about metals and materials in this comprehensive gold shopping guide covering colors, purity, and myths

As part of our rigorous authentication process at the FASHIONPHILE Gemological Lab, every piece of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry undergoes XRF scanning upon arrival. This meticulous examination ensures the integrity of the materials used. Many fake chalcedony VCA pendants are made with sterling silver. In this example, after running it through XRF, it was composed of 95% of the silver alloy, and our experts immediately knew this was fake. 

image of authentic van cleef & arpels metal made of 18k gold by FASHIONPHILE
image of fake van cleef & arpels metal made of sterling silver alloy by FASHIONPHILE

Pictured above: Fake is made of 95% of silver (Ag) alloy. No gold (Au) was present. 

From verifying the quality of the gemstones to checking hallmarks and the integrity of the metals, these three checkpoints are some of the many steps our brand experts undergo to ensure the authenticity of every Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry piece on our site. 

If you’re eager to delve deeper into the world of authenticating fine jewelry, here’s what every discerning luxury shopper should understand about our authentication process at FASHIONPHILE.