03 March 2021
« Discovering the World of Gems » at The School of Jewelry Arts
Did you know that courses provided by The School of Jewelry Arts are also aimed at young audiences of between 5 and 18? I attended the one entitled “Discovering the World of Stones” with four teenagers.
Text and photos by Sandrine Merle.
This course, designed to fit with school curriculums, introduces children to a new world and raises their awareness of life’s creative side. “As teenagers, they have little opportunity to take an interest in jewelry and stones. These classes open their minds,” says Ellea’s mother. Ellea, in trainers, skinny jeans and crop top, is now in her pre-Bac year, and wants to work in the luxury industry – possibly with a jeweler. Mathilde knows she’s going to be an architect (as we learn from her sweatshirt), but she wanted to know more after visiting the “Jean Vendome” exhibition. What brought Paul here was another show entitled “Birds in Paradise”. For Chloée, the trigger was her grandfather’s collection of stones.
Far more fun than school
“Here, it’s much more fun than ordinary school,” says gemologist and teacher Isabelle Delahaye. For the brilliant teaching (exploring the depths of the Earth, chemical formulas, a world map of mines and more) never takes precedence over the practical side. The accent is on quizzes, workshops and experiments. First mission: to classify a series of illustrated maps in chronological order, from the extraction of stones to the finished jewelry item. A word also has to be associated with each of the stages: eruption, erosion, sorting, jewelry, etc. Everyone draws on their memories and Life Science classes and uses their own logic. This is all done in teams of two, because there is strength in numbers!
Then everyone moves on to handling the stones – citrine, peridot, pink opal, inclusion quartz… Here, too, fun is the order of the day, with role games: “I’m on the other side of the world without a smartphone, and I want to buy a stone from you , so you have to describe it to me,” says Isabelle. Samples in hand, Ellea, Chloée, Paul and Mathilde make observations: “green as moss inside”, “with facets”, “dome-shaped”, etc. Isabelle associates the right word with each description: inclusion, cabochon, etc. An inventive way of introducing students to this intriguing world.
The magnifying glass: a vital tool
All gemmologists need a 10x magnifying glass. “It’s even called their third eye!” says Isabelle. Its use requires a few techniques: placing the elbows firmly on the table (it’s allowed for once!), holding it by the lower part positioned against the cheek, finding the leading eye (the one with you aim with) and not closing the other one, or you lose depth of field. Silence descends on the room… The inner life of these stones is fascinating.
Time flies because the approach is so creative and lighthearted. We are at school… but it’s not the same! When they left, Ellea, Chloé, Lou and Paul, riveted by this course, only wanted one thing: to go around the Place Vendôme, just a few steps away, and gaze at the stones in the jewelers’ windows.
Book a workshop for young people at The School of Jewelry Arts
Banner video: “SnowWhite and the Seven Dwarfs”, cartoon shown during this workshop
Marc Deloche at The School of Jewelry Arts
“Inside Out: Journey into the center of a gem” with Billie Hugues