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L’ Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels

Mar 21, 14 L’ Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels

In January 2014, two years after its official opening the L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels presented to the public its new premises in a luxurious mansion in the heart of the jewelry mecca of the world – Place Vendome. Since its inception in February 2012 this unique project, established by the legendary jewelry Maison and aimed at discovery of the mysteries of the world of jewelry, development of taste and feeling for beauty in everyone, drew a lot of attention. More than two thousand people from thirty countries of the world attended to this school.

Next door to the headquarters of legendary Haute Joaillerie brands, through the courses in history of art and workshops of jewelry, precious stones, design and drawing, L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels tries to create an new culture of connoisseurs in love with jewelry and precious stones.

On the eve of the new group of classes we managed to speak with the President of L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels, Marie Vallanet-Delhom, about the future plans of the project.

Is it true that L’ Ecole is not always tied to Place Vendôme and in the past year you have successfully carried out a “nomadic school” in Tokyo? Are you planning other similar trips?

Yes, indeed. We created L’Ecole with the intention that our students would discover the world of jewelry art. We desired to give to those interested some keys and knowledge that make this world quite understandably closed. To allow those, who have the desire, become real experts on their own and begin to understand watches, precious stones and jewelry. L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels is open to everyone and it means that we must sometimes go to the people. L’Ecole is located at Place Vendome, but not always the students from other countries are able to come to us. Therefore, we decided to try a project with a nomadic school. So in July 2013 we went to Japan, where during 15 days we organized classes for 650 people! Certainly it was not easy, but we were very lucky with the students, they were really keen and interested people. So, definitely, we will continue. Now we are thinking about two trips to Hong Kong and the United States.

Do you plan to have the same enormous number of students?

I hope so. Because when L’Ecole moves it must move with all the teachers, study rooms, workshops for drawing, stones and other things. This is a very large organization, but we don’t think it is right to take just a part and work half-heartedly.

L’ Ecole was established by Van Cleef & Arpels, though not dedicated to it; however, the name definitely attracts students. Are you opening some secrets and mysteries of the Maison to your disciples anyway?

From the thirteen courses of the program two are fully dedicated to Van Cleef & Arpels, namely the unique artistic style of the Maison. In these courses we try to explain how a mystical effect of pieces is created, their style, which became legendary. We’ve even developed a special educational system that would convey it all. But on the other hand, you know, the secrets are not in the stories about technology: they are in masterly work of jewelers themselves. I can be talking to three hours about how to achieve a particular effect, but to reproduce it you will need five years of special education and 20 years of experience. The real secret in in the talent of people and in their hands.

Whether there were students coming out of L’ Ecole with a desire to become real jewelers and where do you recommend them to go for special education?

Yes, I was approached several times with such a request. There are only a few specialized schools in our area worldwide. Two of them in are France. First is a school of Boulle (l’école Boulle), or rather its jewelry department. This is an international school, very famous in different crafts. Second is the Louvre Street school or and the BJOP school (Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie et Perles).

What are L’ Ecole plans for 2014?

Well to begin with, our classes will be held in the new premises. We plan to pay a lot of attention to the development of special classes for organizations. Jewelry work is always a team effort, and every piece of jewelry art is always created by several talented and highly organized people. It turned out that this idea is very interesting in the field of team building and team-spirit. So now we are developing and this direction as well, but also I would love to make a program for children and adolescents that would engage in the development of taste and interest to the world of jewelry since childhood.

Photo credits:  L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels

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