Opening new stores was once the most effective way to build a brand. However, with the continuous growth of online sales, as well as younger consumers, cultivating loyalty to big names has become a challenge. K11 Musea is an example of how the retail scene is countering this dilemma. The shopping destination is designed to enrich consumers’ daily lives through the power of creativity, culture, and innovation.
It’s an approach shared by L’Ecole Asia Pacific director Elise Gonnet-Pon and promoting the public education of art remains a core pillar of the jewelry art school. After hosting three successful pop-up programs in Hong Kong over the past five years, L’Ecole, supported by French jewelry brand Van Cleef and Arpels, has returned to the city with its second international campus at K11 Musea.
“With each of the three Hong Kong editions being more successful than the last and the enthusiastic response we received from the community during our quarterly evening conversations, we recognize there is a strong appetite for learning jewelry arts here,” said Gonnet-Pon.
Since its establishment in Paris seven years ago, the school’s goal is to offer enthusiasts an engaging insight into the world of high jewelry through educational courses, talks, and exhibitions.
Their courses cover 17 topics and explore the topics of savoir-faire (craftsmanship), the art history of jewelry, and the universe of gemstones. Classes, which are two to four hours long, can be taken a la carte and in any order, but are limited to 12 students to encourage participation and interaction with teachers.
Creating a piece of high jewelry starts with a gouache – a painted sketch that acts as a guide for the craftsperson.
Divided into two three-hour classes on light and color, the gouache classes focus on technical training. Each requires precision, concentration, and accuracy while emphasizing how to discern color perception and light.
By learning design techniques and sketching gemstones, participants will learn about the technical details of jewelry design – laying the foundation for the setting, cutting, and polishing the gemstones.
“Jewelry is not just a unique craft, it is also art and culture,” said Marie Vallanet-Delhom, president of L’Ecole. “Every piece has a story to tell – not only the value of fine craftsmanship and the gem itself, but also the history and relations between people.”
With this in mind, the art history of jewelry class, led by two art historians, focuses on jewelry masterpieces, their stories, and aesthetics. Among them, a four-hour course on art nouveau jewelry allows participants to learn about the style of the Belle Epoque period in France, which brought momentous changes and marked a revival of artistic creation in the jewelry industry. Students are taught about its development, inspirations, and the bold innovations of well-known jewelers such as Lalique, Vever and Fouquet.
While the curriculum appears to teach a predominantly Western perspective on the history and application of jewelry art, it also seeks to combine content from both the East and West. This is shown in a course that covers both French jewels and Japanese lacquer, which has been popular since its Hong Kong debut in 2016. Comparing the art forms of two countries, in addition to presenting the historical origins and development of lacquer art, the course has two lacquer art experts from Japan teach ancient art techniques originally introduced in the Tang dynasty.
L’Ecole will also offer a full-year program that includes workshops for young people and evening talks. And, for the first time in Hong Kong, curated exhibitions showcasing jewelry arts from private collections, as well as creations by contemporary artists, are open to the public. The school is running an exhibition until February showing nearly 50 precious objects collected by the Prince and Princess Saddrudin Aga Khan.
“L’Ecole’s offerings break down barriers to the vast and enchanting world of jewelry for everyone,” said Vallanet-Delhom.
So no matter if you are a budding jeweler, gemstone enthusiast, history geek, or simply looking for a new hobby, L’Ecole has a sparkling proposition for you.
(This article was published at The Standard on December 31, 2019: Education: Rare gems of wisdom )