“Fascinating Diamond” – The day I took a class at the Van Cleef & Arpels School of Jewelry Arts

Marianne Riou

At the end of January, I had the opportunity to attend a class at the Van Cleef & Arpels School of Jewelry Arts: The Diamond’s Magics : Symbols & Legends. A captivating journey into the heart of the history of diamonds, the passions they have aroused and the myths that surround them, wholeheartedly led by two instructors *… who are just as passionate as their subject!

The least we can say is that these two intense hours of class did not leave us dissatisfied. There were four of us—practically a private lesson!—and the class was given in English: The Diamond’s Magics : Symbols & Legends. The idea is an interesting one; discovering and studying diamonds in terms of what they symbolize allows for a fun approach, one that is necessarily intriguing and, above all, not at all dull. It’s certainly not like sitting at a school desk, staring out of the window and waiting for it to finish. Moreover, the “motto” of the Van Cleef & Arpels School of Jewelry Arts is: Discover. Learn. Wonder.” And that’s exactly what we did in the class.


Without revealing too much of the content to you, our first endeavor was to familiarize ourselves with the words associated with diamonds: Fascinating – Passionate – Enchanting. Strength and vitality for men; power and seduction for women. We then travelled through History and attempted to understand how famous people, such as Alexander the Great, Tavernier of course, Shah Jahan or Henry IV of England, have helped shape the legend of this exceptional stone, both through their personality and the values of their times. The class used slides, reproductions of paintings and illustrations. Above all, we were able to admire, close up, 3D reproductions (and old cuts) of exceptional diamonds such as: the Shah Diamond (engraved in Persian with the name of the Shah’s dynasty), the Grand Sancy Diamond (or the Mazarin 1), the Regent Diamond, the Cullinan II Diamond, the Koh-i-Nor Diamond, etc.

At the end of the class, students were presented with a diploma, signed by the Director of the School, Marie Vallanet-Delhom. And a list of books, podcasts, websites and museums to help them complete the class and to “go further”. Finally, be aware that the classes will evolve with time, and with the knowledge and discoveries of the school’s instructors.

Practical details

The instructors are gemologists, art historians or Van Cleef & Arpels’ artisans.

List of classes and lectures (from €100 to €200), in French and in English: First Steps into the Jewelry World; Gouache in High Jewelry 1 – Light ; Art Nouveau Jewelry: From School to Museum; Recognizing Gemstones ; Fascinating Diamond 2: Science and Gemology; Entering the Van Cleef & Arpels Universe, etc.

Schedule of classes and lectures

It should be noted that there are also 2-hour classes (€15) for children: The Mock-Up, First Sculptural Vision of the Jewel; Create your Precious Clock; Discovering the World of Gems, etc.

The School abroad

The School of Jewelry Arts travels and exports its classes from Tokyo to New-York and Hong-Kong. From November 7th to 25th, 2017, it laid down its hat in Dubai, in the Design District, for a tailor-made program, organized around three themes—Art History of Jewelry; the Universe of Gemstones; and Savoir Faire —bringing together classes, lectures, exhibitions (on pearls, and on Emirati ornaments and jewelry in particular) and workshops. The School’s first visit to the Middle East was a great success (with over 1,000 students and 2,000 visitors); “the cultural expectation was very high in Dubaiaccording to Marie Vallanet-Delhom, “and the young population expressed a very strong willingness to learn.” Moreover, a real campus was created for the occasion…





School of Jewelry Arts, supported by Van Cleef & Arpels,
22, place Vendôme, 75001 Paris. Entry at 31, rue Danielle Casanova.

Phone: + 33 (0)1 70 70 36 00
E-mail: contact@lecolevancleefarpels.com





*Inezita Gay-Eyckel and Gislain Aucremanne, both art historians.

Photo © Marianne Riou, School of Jewelry Arts.