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L'ÉCOLE Van Cleef & Arpels: our mission is to share the jewelry culture with as many people as possible

05 july 2021
marie_vallanet_delhom_xx.pngFrance has gradually begun to lift quarantine restrictions on places of cultural recreation, including museums starting from May 19, 2021.

The world-renowned L'ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts (L'ECOLE des Arts Joailliers) Van Cleef & Arpels was one of the first to open its doors after another long lockdown, announcing the extension of the exhibition Jean Vendome, Artist Jeweler until 28 July 2021. Initially, the exhibition was scheduled for the end of 2020, but as L'ÉCOLE opened its doors to admirers of the legendary jeweler's craftsmanship on October 8, 2020, another wave of COVID-19 spread across France. All establishments were closed. Now residents of France can visit an exhibition of one of the main jewelers of the twentieth century for free, having previously registered on the School's website. In addition, L'ÉCOLE offers a wide range of jewelery courses that were only available online during the pandemic.

Rough&Polished spoke with Marie Vallanet-Delhom, President of Van Cleef & Arpels’s L'ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, about how the school weathered the coronavirus crisis, about the courses on offer, and of course about the Jean Vendome exhibition.

How did L'ÉCOLE survive the Covid-19 pandemic? How difficult was it for you personally?

Well, during these hard times L'ÉCOLE concentrated on reaching out to our students and friends via boosting and enriching online content. For example, among our initiatives, we created an original format for live online talks, often from cultural landmarks around Paris, such as the Museum of Decorative Arts, National Museum of Natural History, and the Library of the Institut National d'Histoire de l’Art (INHA) as well as virtual tours of the Jean Vendome exhibition. Besides that, we launched an «at home» creative crafts contest for children, entitled “Rock-Paper-Jewels”. The teachers of L’ÉCOLE also created several short film series made on subjects ranging from the French Crown Jewels to the History of Men’s Jewelry for Instagram and Facebook sharing. We also enriched our social network content with educational posts written by our teachers about specific pieces of jewelry.

Did you implement new strategies to attract new students during the lockdown?

No, we have chosen a different strategy. Our focus was on doing all that we could to bring the delights of jewelry learning into the homes of our students and friends via creating original, high-quality digital communication vehicles.

Which format of courses are you going to focus on now - online or offline? (Regarding the current situation)

Our in-person, on-site, hands-on classes have always been and will always be the heart and soul of the school, nourished also by our onsite exhibitions. Our in-person classes and our current exhibition about Jean Vendome are open and fully active now, respecting governmentally prescribed sanitary procedures, of course. We continue to create new courses to fuel our mission of sharing the jewelry culture with as many people as possible.

Are the courses designed for amateurs in jewelry art?

Yes indeed, our courses are designed for all those who are interested in the jewelry arts. There are no prerequisites, except a desire to learn!

Do you provide certificates for those who finished one of your programs?

And indeed we have a ceremony at the end of each class when we give a certificate signed by me and a “To Go Further” list of books, websites, museums and films for each class.

Will your courses be interesting for professional jewellers?

Of course! In particular, our jewelry history courses can be interesting and helpful to professional jewelers in order to heighten their level of knowledge of jewelry culture and to gain insights and inspiration for their creations and other aspects of their work.

You have launched a new format of short course cycles. What advantages does it have? What are the differences between long-term and short-term courses?

L'ÉCOLE offers an exclusive program dedicated to three main areas: craftsmanship, the history of jewelry, and the universe of gemstones. The existing long courses are one-time courses of 4 hours each, so long in individual duration but not in a cycle, à la carte. We have also introduced a new “Discovery Series” consisting of long and short courses in a cycle, at an advantageous tuition rate. For instance, the itinerary of 4 hour courses is: “The Journey of a Gemstone, from the Mineral to the Lapidary’s Bench”. It includes 4 courses, which are 4 hours each.

The new short course cycles give people a chance to delve more deeply into a specific subject, such as “Artist’s Jewelry” with 5 classes of 1.5 hours each at 7 p.m. to give busy working people a chance to learn at L’ÉCOLE.

Could you please unveil some highlights of the extended Jean Vendome exhibition?

Sure. The Jean Vendome exhibition provides an educational, thematic, enjoyable journey into the very unique creative world of Jean Vendome, the pioneering modern artist jeweler. His mineralogical, gemological and unique creative vision is unmatched and this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see his masterpieces, beautifully and expertly curated. We also give you a beautiful and informative souvenir catalog for no charge to take with you after your visit!

For reference: The School of High Jewelry Art (L'ECOLE des Arts Joailliers) was created at the initiative of Van Cleef & Arpels in 2012. It offers the public the opportunity to experience jewelry making, gemology and the history of jewelry through a series of courses and talks, as well as exhibitions and webinars in both Paris and Hong Kong - the School's two permanent locations - and the rest of the world by organizing traveling events. In Paris, L'ÉCOLE is located in the Place Vendôme, where the spirit of jewelry soars, in an 18th-century mansion that embodies the French artistic tradition. The school entrance is located at 31 rue Danielle Casanova in Paris.

L'ÉCOLE also helps expand jewelry knowledge by organizing free exhibitions open to the public. Through collaborations with collectors and contemporary artists, these exhibitions provide jewelry lovers a rare opportunity to see exceptional works.

Now the School invites the public to visit the Jean Vendome exhibition.

A pioneer in modern jewelry and a keen mineral lover who has never stopped creating throughout his life, from his first jewelry collection in the 1950s to his last creations in 2017. Jean Vendome, whose real name was Ohan Tuhdarian, presented his first jewelry collection in 1950, marking sixty-seven years of the creative upsurge in the jewelry industry. 

Victoria Quiri for Rough&Polished