Me ? At the Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels
I never thought it would be possible to take a course in jewelry just for the fun of it … And did you know that the only school in the world offering this course is in Paris Place Vendome ! So I decided to make a visit to the Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels and take my first lesson. As soon as I arrived, I was fascinated by the place, a clear ceiling height out of the ordinary, a library full to the brim with French houses of haute jewelry. And then suddenly…
« Driiiiiiiiinggggg !!! »
What ?! There’s a bell ?! We really are in school ! So I put on my white apron from my locker room and left for 4 hours of practice. The professors (whom you will not see for confidentiality reasons !) are none other than “Hands of Gold” in the workshop of Haute Joaillerie. These courses allow them to go outside of their daily routine and pass on their know-how and share their extraordinary passion.
Today we have 2 groups. I teamed up with a couple Nicole and Gerard, both retired architects. It was a gift from their son. They’re thrilled to be here, and so am I ! For starters, the atmosphere is really friendly. We begin by settling in our seats. That’s what we call a jeweller’s working process. It’s funny we have a big leather cloth hanging above our knees, in case a stone falls out of our hands. It’s better than finishing on all fours !!!
When I was 30, I wanted to pursue this as a career ! But I ended up taking another path. It’s truly wonderful to be working closely with jewelry in this school which is open to the public. Nicole
To start, we are going to learn the techniques of a closed setting (gold claws set). In other words, how to fix a stone on a piece of jewelry. I never thought I would be able to do it myself ! It’s a great quality of the school. Regardless of the value of the stones or the high technicality, the students take everything into their own hands as if they were real jewellers. This applies to everyone. And I have to say I’m doing pretty well for a first time…
And now it’s time to move on to the second part of the course. Each one receives a butterfly made of wax to become familiar with the design techniques of a jewel. Every white dot will be pierced to hold a stone. Even with a compass, it’s not easy to make a perfect symmetry ! This time we’re not performing as good as last time ! We would need a couple thousand hours of observation and work before reaching the desired result.
While we were working, we started discussing with our teacher. He told us about his greatest creations and showed us some pictures of his makings each one more fascinating than the other.
This time for sure, I will never see another piece of jewelry in the same way again. And that’s what the Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels is all about. Turning your students into enlightened amateurs!
L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels, 31 rue Danielle Casanova, Paris 2 – Registration and schedule : www.lecolevancleefarpels.com