Very often in the past and the present, the tricks of the trade were jealously safeguarded in order to maintain consolidated positions on the market. Today, the general outlook to proprietary techniques has changed, and some luxury brands are encouraging their public of enthusiasts, customers and followers to learn more about their products. A good example is Van Cleef & Arpels, who have opened a school designed to shed light on the secretive world of jewellery and the heritage of knowledge that it represents.
Van Cleef & Arpels without doubt have contributed a great deal to the techniques involved in haute joiaillerie, with inventions such as the Mystery Setting, Zip necklaces, Poetic Complications watches, and the Pierres de Caractère collection of gemstones. This and much more will be explained from February 2012, at the school named simply L'École, on Place Vendôme in Paris. The school comprises a hall for handling and trying on jewellery, training salons for conventional learning, and a library for exploring the subject in greater depth.
The school is designed for an international public, and it offers a non-technical curriculum intended to enable students to develop an eye for jewellery and its materials. The stages in the course comprise a series of steps, "Unveiling," "Shedding light on" and "Revealing." Each step consists of a number of four-hour sessions. Classes are in English or French.