The insatiably curious Marie-Anne, journalist and founder of the website Re-Voir Paris, travels the length and breadth of the city to bring us her top tips. To give her an introduction to The School of Jewelry Arts, I suggested she attend a course entitled “The Ruby, a Fiery and Bewitching Stone”.
Text and photos by Sandrine Merle.
The red ruby is one of the four precious stones, and examples with over 5 carats are extremely rare. The most beautiful gems are of the intense red known as “pigeon’s blood”. They’re found in Myanmar, Mozambique and – rather surprisingly – in Greenland. The extreme richness of the gem inspired The School of Jewelry Arts to design a fascinating course, “The Ruby, a Fiery and Bewitching Stone”, taught by gemologists Marie-Laure Cassius-Duranton and Caroline Boneti.
Sandrine Merle. You know Paris like the back of your hand, but you’ve never been to the Segur mansion where The School is located.
Marie-Anne Bruschi. It’s not generally easy to access the interiors of all these magnificent Parisian mansions. I entered through Rue Danielle Casanova, but this huge building also overlooks 22 Place Vendôme, where the Van Cleef & Arpels boutique is located. Its architect, Jacques V Gabriel, designed other buildings on Place Vendôme, as well as the Château de Compiègne, which I love. At The School, I fell in love with the plaster jewelry molds and stone photos lining the walls, the traditional tools of artisans in the classrooms and the library with its thousands of books. It was a real find!
S.M. What did you find most interesting during this course?
M-A.B. I knew that ruby was a red precious stone, but I didn’t know that it often had purple, orange or pink hues, which greatly impact the price. That’s why two analysis reports from very respected laboratories can disagree on the color, as no one perceives it in quite the same way! In an interview shown during the course, the American gemologist, Richard W. Hughes, gave an excellent explanation of the difficulty of agreeing objectively on color. This became obvious to me during an exercise consisting of selecting the reddest ruby among ten or so.
S.M. You’ve now been initiated to the world of precious stones and jewelry!
M-A.B. The course approach is very interesting because it’s cross-cutting and goes far beyond the gemstones themselves. I learned more about several of my key areas of interest in it. The approach is literary with the presentation of Joseph Kessel’s book “La Vallée des Rubis”. It immerses us in history and symbolism thanks to the film presentation by Michel Pastoureau, a specialist in color and a medievalist. And it’s a travel experience too! Thanks to images filmed by a professor of The School in the mines of Mogok in Myanmar, we were able to explore a seam that’s been exploited for 2,000 years.
S.M. It’s a far cry from a traditional course…
M-A.B. The 4 hours simply flew by! Marie-Laure Cassius-Duranton and Caroline Boneti’s course is so lively, you’re never bored. There’s a wide range of teaching methods and there are fun practical exercises designed to help you observe fluorescence, dichroism, etc. It’s magical to be able to manipulate these beautiful stones and play at being a gemologist!
S.M. Would you happily go back to The School?
M-A.B. Yes, because whereas in general you come out poorer from jewelers’ stores, here you come out richer all round!
Choose a date and time for “The Ruby, a Fiery and Bewitching Stone” at The School of Jewelry Arts
Re-voir Paris, a city-guide by Marie-Anne Bruschi