Style and Grace
Before she was Princess Grace of Monaco, she was Grace Kelly, a Philadelphia native turned Hollywood darling and Oscar winning actress. It was her marriage to Prince Rainier III of Monaco, in 1956, that elevated Kelly to a fashion icon.
Her elaborate lace wedding dress took six weeks and a team of three dozen seamstresses to complete; it was put on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2006. Kelly became so closely associated with the Hermès leather Sac à dépêches, and was photographed carrying it so often, that the design house renamed it in her honor. The eponymous Kelly Bag remains one of the most coveted and sought-after handbags in the world.
But it was her lifelong love affair with French jewelry company Van Cleef & Arpels that truly excites Jewelry specialists, adding a lovely layer of history to an already iconic, storied brand.
Making It Official
Kelly met Prince Rainier III at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955. After a brief courtship mainly through correspondence, the pair became engaged at Christmas in 1955. The following spring, just a few months before their wedding, Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly were personally welcomed at the New York City Van Cleef & Arpels boutique by Louis Arpels, where the happy couple purchased a three-strand pearl necklace, along with a matching ring and earrings.
Just a few months later, Van Cleef & Arpels was named the “Official Supplier to the Principality of Monaco,” an honor for the house and the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship with the new Princess, who had replaced the fairytales of Hollywood with her own real-life version.
Clovers and Clips
Kelly frequently shopped at the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique in Monaco, and was most famously associated with their long Alhambra necklaces, in tortoiseshell, coral, and malachite. The quatrefoil (a rounded four-leaf clover) motif has become one of the most easily recognizable designs of the house, and can be spotted to this day draped around the necks and wrists of beautiful celebrities, all aiming, no doubt, for a dash of the Princess’s elegance.
She was also a collector of the charming “La Boutique” animal clips. First debuted in 1954 at the newly opened boutique on Place Vendôme in Paris, the playful range of clips were intended to attract a broader, and younger, clientele, but they found an unexpected home amongst the both Monegasque and American royalty (Jackie O. was also a collector).
These styles remain timeless. The auction house is a popular destination for sellers and buyers to find such unique pieces.
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An eighteen karat gold and hardstone 'Alhambra Lucky' necklace, Van Cleef & Arpels, sold for $13,750; An eighteen karat gold and gem-set rabbit brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels, sold for $17,500; A hardstone and eighteen karat gold dog brooch, Van Cleef & Arpels, sold for $13,125