van cleef & arpels school in paris

by Sharon Santoni

place vendome paris

Last week saw me heading early into Paris with a spring to my step and a smile of anticipation.   I was invited to spend the day at the Van Cleef and Arpels School of Jewelry, and I knew that it would be good.  The school is hidden away just off the famous Place Vendome, home to all the great names in haute couture jewellry: Chaumet, Cartier, Boucheron and of course Van Cleef and Arpels.

Besides my personal enjoyment, I was also eager to get a feel for the classes firsthand, before bringing my guests here as part of my September Antiques and Luxury tour.

The day started well as we were welcomed with coffee and a choice of fruit and pastries and introduced to team members at the school.   The school is in an old building with high ceilings and original parquet floors.   There were different lessons planned for the day, and I had already chosen the gouaché class for the morning, followed by a history of the engagement ring in the afternoon.

Under the expert eye of a professional artist whose work is an integral part of jewellry design for some of the greatest names in the business, I laboriously attempted to show how light falls on metal.  Easy, I hear you say …. not so much is my reply.

On the left is the example we were given, a magnificent gouaché of an even more magnificent necklace of diamonds and emeralds … and on the right is my not-so-magnificent attempt at a gouaché of a simple metal bow.   You won’t be surprised to hear that I did not get a job offer after that class, but I enjoyed it nevertheless and learnt a lot about the role of the artist in any creation










After a delicious lunch, and the chance to chat to other students and teachers it was time for the engagement ring class.   This covered a history of the engagement ring, the design of the ring and also an introduction to gemology.   Another tricky moment for this blogger.   Take it from me, holding that little magnifying glass and examining the quality of a beautiful diamond is not as easy as it looks.


It was great to be guided by experts who told us what we were looking for and how to use the tools.  We were entrusted with real diamonds of various quality and colour… all extremely subtle.

I have to tell you also how very excited I was to find myself being taught by the master craftsman who created this fantastic and priceless bracelet and watch.   We talked about the work that this unique piece involved and it was humbling to see this very gifted artisan talk about his work with such simplicity.

If you’d like to take a class at the Van Cleef and Arpels School you can either join an existing class or privatise your own event as I shall be doing for my guests in September.

Take a look here to find out more about the School and their various courses, and who knows, maybe we’ll meet up one day in a classroom!


Vicky from Athens May 6, 2017 - 8:21 pm

What a fascinating way to spend a day! Surrounded by such magnificent creations – that ruby and diamond watch is beyond belief!
As with Box #1 I was away when #2 arrived and had to wait until this afternoon to open it. As before, I took my time unwrapping and opening every piece and enjoying every minute of anticipation! Again, you did not disappoint – everything is delightful, fragrant and lovely. The diffuser is already on my coffee table in the family room. Now I have all summer to look forward to the contents of #3!!

Clare May 6, 2017 - 8:24 pm

What a privilege you had to be able to encounter the artisans at this very prestigious jewellers.
Thanks for sharing with us all.

Colleen Taylor May 6, 2017 - 9:24 pm

What an incredible place to tour Sharon! That bracelet watch is to die for. Ultimate luxury!

Our French Oasis May 6, 2017 - 9:24 pm

What an incredible experience that must have been, it’s always fantastic to be able to learn things from the very best! Your September tour will be a wonderful few days for people coming here to France!

Dana Veach May 6, 2017 - 9:37 pm

That gouache rendering of the emerald necklace is astounding to me. I would have sworn it was photographic from the outset! As a painter myself, I can assure you that your own efforts are not all that shabby, Sharon, but I fully understand being overawed at the comparison with the rendering of the emeralds! What a treat this experience must have been! Thanks for sharing it.

Sandi Stringer May 6, 2017 - 9:53 pm

I just received box #2 and enjoyed every minute of unwrapping each little goodie dreaming I was in France. Loved absolutely everything. Thank you so much.

Dianne Estes May 7, 2017 - 3:01 am

So excited when my box came. I LOVE roses and the wonderful scent of roses in the box was fab. The diffuser is wonderful..lov the beautiful bag and all the other goodies..I knew it would be special…and I was not disappointed

Janet May 7, 2017 - 4:54 pm

I am so looking forward to our trip in September. All of my friends are envious. This post was icing on the cake!

Margaret Elmendorp May 8, 2017 - 3:40 am

I actually love your little bow! Don’t diminish your talent so readily! Of course emeralds, rubies and diamonds in such abundance are a hard act to follow!


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