For those whose passion for magnificent jewellery goes beyond merely admiring and wearing it, Van Cleef & Arpels’ L’École, School of Jewelry Arts is an educational program that can outfit you with a jeweller’s loupe and seat you at the bench for some expert, hands-on training with genuine gemstones.
Like other famed jewellery maisons, Van Cleef & Arpels has an illustrious history and a culture of mastering the craft from both the creative and technical points of view. Rather than limiting the celebration of its rich patrimony to the past, the Paris-based luxury jeweller keeps one eye on the future, training and educating anyone with the inclination to learn about the demanding art and craft of all that glitters.
Located in an 18th-century mansion on Place Vendôme, L’École was founded as an independent venture by Van Cleef & Arpels. The program seeks to instill a deep understanding and appreciation of the fine jewellery craft, through hands-on training in more than 20 classes offered in French and English, each capped at six to 12 students with two or more instructors. A second permanent school is scheduled to open in Hong Kong this fall.
The team of 50 instructors includes gemologists, art historians, jewellers, and designers, all recognized experts in their respective fields. The curriculum is divided into themes: Art History of Jewelry, the Universe of Gemstones, and Savoir Faire. Some new additions to the course catalogue for the fall include Around the World in Jewelry, a class dedicated to rubies, and another that allows you to try your hand at stone cutting. Most classes range from two to four hours, and none have prerequisites.
“Our mission is the transmission of awareness about all the dedication to the arts that goes into making jewellery, and also research into jewellery-related areas of study,” says L’École president Marie Vallanet, who notes that alumni span all ages and come from 40 different countries. “Our students come to us with a wide range of motivations: to sharpen their eye and raise their awareness of the jewellery arts; for pure personal enjoyment; because they are interested in collecting; because they are thinking of entering into the jewellery field professionally, and more.”
L’École’s mission is not merely to share knowledge, but to generate it, through a research department that develops courses, offers lectures, plans exhibitions, and publishes writing.
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