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SCHOOL OF THOUGHT: L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts
Text by Kee | Photos courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels
05.09.2017

Even if your jewellery knowledge or handicraft skills are limited to flipping catalogues and giftwrapping, attending a course at the prestigious L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts – supported by Van Cleef & Arpels – ought to straighten out the kinks.

 

It’s a so-called nomadic school for jewellery, one that calls Paris home but roams around the globe after the summer break, which is a fantastic bit of news for those grounded by reality and forced to absorb knowledge via window shopping and YouTube videos. When we first heard about L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts, it was during its debut semester in Hong Kong nearly three years ago. Its backer being highend jeweller Van Cleef & Arpels brought plenty of clout to the project as well as curiosity about why a sacred and secretive trade is finally opening its doors to the public. The answer is perhaps a simple one: renewal and revival. Whilst tradition in the craft continues to be respected, the longstanding practice of holding cards tightly to the chest might not be a long-term solution in getting the next generation to be remotely interested in the art of jewellery, one that Van Cleef & Arpels have been successfully part of since 1896. That said, the jeweller’s role in this project is simply as a supporting act and they have no direct influence over the school’s independence, operations, and curriculum. That means you won’t just be learning about Zip necklaces and the story behind the Alhambra. From September 16 to October 1, L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts is returning to Hong Kong’s PMQ for the third year running, bringing with them a revised curriculum – out of the 10 courses on offer, six are brand new. The courses are categorised into Art History of Jewellery (for history buffs), Savoir-Faire (for those who like to get their hands dirty), and the Universe of Gemstones (for the self-professed treasure hunters). While the theory lessons in art and jewellery history might be a perfect start for those who can’t tell apart a diamond and a crystal, the practical courses under the Savoir-Faire umbrella are an experience unto itself – and perhaps even a gauge to see if you have the chops (or natural talent) to be part of the trade. One of the more interesting practical courses is the chance to learn and work with Japanese urushi lacquer. A veteran of the technique, who works in the workshops of Van Cleef & Arpels, will teach you how to craft your own lacquered butterfly using three ancestral techniques (placing colours, Maki-e, and mosaics in mother-of-pearl). Other courses cover foundations such as stone setting and gouaché (the creation of the jewellery’s blueprint). Those who have never attended a course before should note that there are only limited seats available per class so as to have a manageable ratio of students per instructor, ensuring that each student has adequate attention from the instructors during the course, which can last up to four hours. You just never know what might happen after successfully attending a course – either you’re dropping knowledge to your pals like a know-it-all or a career switch might be on the cards. Maybe both.

 

hk.lecolevancleefarpels.com
www.vancleefarpels.com

 

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