Sunday, July 29, 2012

Van Cleef & Arpels Opens a Jewelry School

By on Sunday, July 29, 2012 9 Comments

Earlier this year, an unusual jewelry school opened in Paris. It's not the usual kind of workshop you could go to for these are classes presented by one of the world's top jewelry houses.


Van Cleef and Arpels was founded over a century ago. It has a storied clientele which includes the rich and famous such as the Rothchilds, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco, Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve.

Their sterling reputation rests on their exquisite work with gemstones. They pioneered and patented an innovative gemstone paving  technique which shows no visible claws or prongs. One of their most iconic designs dating back to 1950 has to be the zip necklace which opens and closes just like a real zip.


Their latest venture, the L'Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels opens the door to jewelry lovers who wish to learn more about fine jewelry making.  The head of the school, Marie Vallanet-Delhom, says it is all about  "passing on, sharing and teaching knowledge."

The school is not meant for professionals but for keen amateurs.   It is much like going to a wine tasting if you adore wine.  Indeed, the school was inspired by such classes. Vallanet-Delhom said, "Teaching oenology is similar in many ways. Whereas technical schools train sommeliers, introductory courses are available to individuals keen to develop their tastes, to find words to express their sensations and to satisfy their curiosity."

jewelry school
Salon for classes

There is some classroom instruction but as this video shows, students get plenty of amazing hands-on experience in the workshop.



The classes are taught in English and French.  They are structured around 3 themes - Unveiling (aesthetics and gemology), Shedding Light On (jewelry history and craftsmanship) and Revealing (workshop visit).

There are 7 modules, each lasting 4 hours. The instructors are experts in their fields including a jeweler, art historian, gemologist and so on.  The cost is between $750 - $1200 depending on which modules are taken.

The school is located in a beautiful 18th century townhouse right on the historic square called Place Vendôme. 


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9 comments:

  1. Wow, I had never seen that zipper necklace before--with the zipper jewelry craze in full swing, it probably looks more hip now than it did when it debuted in 1950.

    I'll put those workshops on my "when I win the lottery" list!

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  2. Oh my!!. Wouldn't that be an experience!!!

    Carol
    designingIt

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  3. It's already on my lottery list! Haha.

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  4. Oh, that sounds like so much fun! I'd go there right after I took my tambour lessons at Ecole Lessage.

    After I won the lottery, too. :)

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  5. Wow, that zipper necklace is EPIC. I mean, so is the school--that place looks very different from any jewelry school I've ever been to :)

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  6. Yet another reason to dream about going to Paris! The other two being shopping for vintage beads and attending Ecole Lesage.

    Oh, I want to take the train to Paris right now... (That'd take 16-18 hours and I'd travel through Denmark, Germany and Belgium before reaching France, which is pretty exciting for someone who's never been outside Scandinavia. And part of the route would travel on a Thalys train. *dreams*)

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  7. I hope your dreams come true, Maneki! It is a lot more feasible than for many of us who live on the other side of the "pond"!

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  8. I had never seen the "Zipper" necklace it is truly a marvelous piece of art.
    Yes attending such a prestigious jewelry course would be quite a prize.

    One of my daughter's school mates, Stephanie, went to a Jewelry College after graduating from high school. She was a dear girl, but a tad ditzy. In her gemology class the teacher gave a test and passed around gemstones for the students to identify ... naturally Stephanie lost the diamond while she was examining it. The whole class looked and looked for it to no avail. In the end every student agreed to chip in to help her pay for it. As I said she was a dear, people loved her, but she was a bit ditzy. :D As for her jewelry career? Well the last I heard she was performing as a fire-eater with a troupe of circus performers (no I am not making this up). :D

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  9. Chuckle! I'll bet she was mortified to have lost the diamond!

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