Arts & Culture

All that glitters is gold

The school of jewellery arts returns to Dubai this month, with help from Van Cleef & Arpels
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The art of jewellery and fine watchmaking has remained almost unchanged for centuries. Putting together these beautiful objects is a practice in patience and passion; an art that must be handed down from craftsman to craftsman. This month, Van Cleef & Arpels is letting the public get a feel for this art, with the return of L’Ecole school of jewellery. 

Kicking off on the 28th of March in Dubai Design District, the school will offer courses and four new exhibitions over a two-week period of time. The exhibition is open to the public, and Van Cleef & Arpel’s hopes that it will inspire aspiring jewellery designers and artists. The brand will also be offering classes and talks, with experts flying over from school’s Paris Place Vendome headquarters. 

“We are excited to re-affirm our mission to share culture and to foster the growth of education through transporting the experiences from the school’s headquarters to the Dubai Design District for the second year,” said Marie Vallanet-Delhom, President of L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels. “During this year’s edition, we once again invite everyone in the Middle East to immerse themselves in the secrets of the jewellery arts, guided by leading expert teachers”. 

L’Ecole started seven years ago in Paris. It marked the first time the highly-vaunted atelier opened its doors to the public, letting anyone who was curious or interested in the history and culture of fine jewellery to see how Van Cleef & Arpels puts together its stunning pieces. This is the second time the school of jewellery has visited Dubai and this year’s edition aims to be more impressive than the last. 

Guests can expect to acquire knowledge through hands-on tutelage, one-on-one dialogue with experts, engaging classes and creative workshops. Courses range from history lessons (such as talks on the history of individual pieces) right down to the methods used to create these stunning pieces (like basic jewellery design and setting techniques). 

There are four main exhibitions that guests can visit, and all present a varying take on the many facets of the jewellery arts. ‘Hidden Treasures: Jewellery from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’ attempts to document and display sterling examples of jewellery from the Art of Heritage Collection at Riyadh. It’s one of the only jewellery exhibits in the world to truly highlight the myriad of influences and animate designs from across the Arabian Peninsula. 

‘Pearl Merchants: A rediscovered saga between the Gulf and France at the dawn of the century’ aims to put a historical spin on the humble pearl. It presents a chapter in history that the jewellery world has since forgotten, up until now. It also showcases how Dubai and its legendary pearl divers played its part in jewellery history.  

‘Precious Art Deco Objects from the Collection of the Prince and Princess Sadruddin Aga Khan’ displays the precious boxes that represent incredible masterpieces of inventiveness, creativity, skill and technical prowess. While the ‘fabulous destiny of Tavernier’s diamonds’ features replicas of 20 exceptional diamonds sold in the 19th century to the French King Louis XIV. These exhibitions are completely free and open to the public. 

For those looking to really get a sense of how a maison such as Van Cleef & Arpels puts together its pieces, the evening sessions are a must. Each night sees another exceptional conversation where a historian from L’Ecole and a local expert will discuss the various chapters of the world of jewellery. 

Talks will be followed by Cinema Sessions: Jewels of the Cinema. A production partnership with Cinema Akil, it features a series of six animated outdoor screenings which prominently featured jewellery. All this is held in a stunning terrace overlooking the Dubai skyline. 

Elsewhere, there are six creative workshops for children and teenagers, letting younger attendees develop their creativity while discovering an entirely new world of jewellery design. These take place through local school collaborations, and open to the public during weekends. All proceeds from this year’s event will once again go to Dubai Cares. 

Van Cleef & Arpels is certainly well-suited to discuss the finer points of jewellery. The atelier was founded back in 1896 by Alfred Van Cleef and his uncle Salomon Arpels. In 1906 the brand opened its first boutique in Paris’ Place Venome. Over the years that followed, the brand became synonymous with the most exquisite jewellery in the world. It has designed exclusive pieces for the likes of fashion icons Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy, and most recently Blake Lively and Julia Roberts. 

The L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels programme will run from 28 March to 13 April 2019 at Hai d3 in Dubai Design District. For more information, head to the L’Ecole website, where more information – including the full schedule of talks and workshops – will be revealed later this month -

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