“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

‘Garden of Emeralds’ exhibition in Dubai

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L’École, School of Jewelry Arts opens its fourth permanent international campus at the Dubai Design District. Part of the ‘Discover the gemstones’ series, the beautiful ‘Garden of Emeralds’ exhibition is visible until 10th March 2024 to mark the occasion. 

With the support of Van Cleef & Arpels, L’École, School of Jewellery Arts was founded in 2012. It offers the opportunity to discover the savoir-faire of jewellery-making, gemmology and the history of jewellery through a range of introductory courses, talks, publications and exhibitions. 

In 2014, L’École campus in Paris settled at the Hôtel de Ségur, rue Danielle Casanova. About five years later a permanent campus opened in Hong Kong, at K11 Musea, followed by three new homes this year: an additional location in Paris, at the in the Hôtel de Mercy-Argenteau; an other one in the Shanghai Twin Villas and one in Dubai’s Design District. Additionally, L’École organises weeks-long itinerant sessions and nomadic school experiences in New York or Tokyo, too. 

Just before the holidays, I visited the freshly inaugurated Dubai location, accompanied by my sister and my goddaughter who thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. 

L’École Dubai campus

L’École had great experiences with its nomadic schools in Dubai and therefore the set up a permanent location here has been in consideration. ‘We really wanted a presence in the Middle East and to one day open a L’École, School of Jewelry Arts location there. When we were offered this building in this very exciting and vibrant neighbourhood, it was the perfect time.’ – as Lise Macdonald (President of L’École) says.

Ten years ago when I lived in the Middle East, the Dubai Design District was in its initial phase, therefore I was very much interested to see the changes since then. Dubai Design District (d3), a member of TECOM Group PJSC, is now a global creative ecosystem dedicated to design, fashion, architecture and art. The Dubai Design District includes business spaces, cool shopping spots and concept stores, cafés and restaurants. It is also the venue of the successful Dubai Design Week and Downtown Design events. 

L’École joins now this hub that cultivates forward-thinking and encourages talent and entrepreneurs worldwide to connect, learn, create and inspire.

Under the leadership of Sophie Claudel (Director of L’École Middle East), the school in Dubai will offer a program of in-person talks covering three main areas: Savoir-Faire (jewelry craftsmanship), the World of Gemstones and the History of Jewelry. From spring 2024, L’École will also organise courses and workshops for adults and children. Delivered by lecturers including art historians, gemologists, jewelers and craftsmen, each course will bring together 6-24 students to ensure ideal learning conditions. 

French designer and interior architect Constance Guisset was responsible for the interior. She created L’École’s second Parisian campus in the Hôtel de Mercy-Argenteau and other places of Van Cleef & Arpels. She designed two large areas; a space intended for free temporary exhibitions and the classrooms accessed via a spacious corridor with high ceilings. Inspired by the half-height windows dressing the contemporary building she formed a running frieze from the outside to the inside. This ribbon of fabric serves as a guide for visitors but also functions to soften the light and sound.

‘Garden of Emeralds. Discover the Gemstones’ 

Gemstones play a key part in the heritage of Van Cleef & Arpels. The Maison exhibits outstanding skills to find exceptional stones, and masters cutting and setting them into remarkable creative designs. Within the walls of L’École, visitors can learn about the gemstones from prominent experts.

Part of the ‘Discover the gemstones’ series, the inaugural ‘Garden of Emeralds’ exhibition presents the research carried out by L’École, School of Jewelry Arts on emeralds. The aim was to introduce the scientific, cultural, artistic and technical aspects of emeralds to everyone.

Our guide at the exhibition was great. After providing an overview about the origin and characteristic of this gemstone, she introduced the meticulous work and the joint effort of lapidaries, designers, gem setters and jewelers for creating exceptional pieces. 

Emerald belongs to the beryl gemstone family (similarly to aquamarines, morganites and heliodors). It has a great diversity of colours, from the most vivid to more subtle. Interesting to know that many gemologists, gemological laboratories, and coloured stone dealers call a stone with a colour ‘too light’ green beryl for it to be classified as emerald. GIA (Gemological Institute of America) uses lab-graded comparison stones to determine if the green colour is dark enough and saturated enough to be called emerald. Alike diamonds, emeralds are classified according to the 4Cs – color, clarity, cut, carat weight. 

Different type of emeralds from different emerald deposits around the world have been exhibited. The first known emerald mines were in Egypt, dating from as early as 2000 BC into the 1700s. Emeralds are currently mined mainly in Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, and also in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Australia, and the United States. 

As we heard, this special stone has excited imaginations since antiquity and was surrounded by the symbolism that comes with the colour green: the love of nature first and foremost, but also power. Emerald have been highly valued by many regions and cultures. The colour cherished by the Prophet, green also evolved as the colour associated with Islam. From Cleopatra’s collection – who was perhaps the most famous figure to love emeralds – to the French Crown Jewels, emerald became cultivated by the greatest sovereigns of the world.  

Beyond the gemstone, beautiful gouache drawings and exquisite historical creations of Van Cleef & Arpels are also on view – a real treat to high jewellery aficionados. If you’re interested in the magical world of the emerald, the exhibition is open at the L’Ecole in Dubai (Building 10, Dubai Design District) until 10th March, 2024.

Photo credits: L’École, School of Jewelry Arts, Van Cleef & Arpels. Loupiosity.com
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