Today we are proud to receive Mr. Olivier Segura on behalf of L’Ecole – School of Jewelry Arts. We interview him as our friend Lotus Gemology’s E.Billie Hughes gave a series of very successful presentation about gemological inclusions named after their latest book: Inside Out with Olivier himself, in Paris on March 12th 2020 and followed closely by an exhibition : “Discover the Gemstones – Ruby&Sapphire” curated by Billie and Olivier, still on going as we write these lines (September 17th) in L'École Asia Pacifique in Hong Kong.
Olivier is a seasoned gemologist that has directed the French Gemmological Laboratory (LFG) for the last 10 years and is now the Scientific Director of l’Ecole des arts Joailliers – School of jewelry arts, supported by VanCleef&Arpels! He is often seen travelling the world on their behalf and we are delighted to receive him today to talk about the school and the fantastic work they are doing with their various expositions around the world!
Olivier has also recently been voted in as the new President of the French Gemological Association (AFG) making him in effect a perfect ambassador for the French Gemology worldwide!
Olivier, the floor is yours!
Photo d'Olivier Segura par ©Pascal Aronin
AsiaLounges: First of all we would like to thank you and L’Ecole to agree to being with us today. As it is customary here, could you tell us more about who you are? Who are you Olivier Segura?
Olivier Segura: Well, beyond the philosophical question, I am a gemologist, with a scholarship in biology / geology and communication. I have a master degree in Science and a Master Degree in Communication. I have a GG from GIA and a DUG from Nantes University in France. After various adventures in the world of gems I joined the School of Jewelry Arts two years ago as scientific director where I develop training programs in gemology for students, I give conferences, I organize exhibitions…
AsiaLounges: What brought you to the world of gems and jewelry? Was it a family creed or something you discovered later in life?
Olivier Segura: To me, gemology and gems were not at all a family affair. On the other hand, much like many other professionals I meet, it is a passion that has developed over time. But, since childhood, I have always been interested in stones! To the despair of my parents, I always picked up stones everywhere and filled my pockets and the car when we traveled! I have to say that, thanks to gemology, I have discovered a world of beauty and I have met so many interesting, passionate and talented peoples that makes me very happy to have changed my life after starting my career in communication.
L'ECOLE-Exhibition-DiscoverTheGemstones - Photo Credits: L'École - School of Jewelry Arts Supported by Van Cleef & Arpels
AsiaLounges: Moving on to l’Ecole, can you tell us more about the institution you represent? What is its mission and what was the idea when Van Cleef and Arpels launched it?
Olivier Segura: Well, L’École is the first forum established to introduce the general public to the world of jewelry, l'Ëcole, school of jewelry arts is for everyone! Created by the initiative of Van Cleef & Arpels in 2012, l'Ëcole offers introductory and experimentation courses à la carte, in France and abroad, focusing on unlocking the secrets of the world of jewelry and at helping people to become connoisseurs.
We opened last year a new permanent school in Hong Kong. L'École offers an exclusive program of 23 courses, in French and English, available, revolving around three main themes: savoir-faire, history of the art of jewelry, and the discovery of gemstones. Lasting from 2 to 4 hours, they are all given by at least two passionate, expert professors. L'École also offers workshops for young people, conferences, and meetings with authors. L’École develops also a program of publications and support research programs.
AsiaLounges: Can you tell us more about your new position at the AFG (French Gemological Association)?
Olivier Segura: Following the sudden passing of the late Didier Giard, I decided to get involved in the Association with the support of all the members and volunteers and to continue to develop this wonderful Association which was founded in the sixties. There too we aim to promote and develop the knowledge of gems and gemology. We publish a review, we organize conference cycles, gemology related trips ... and it is a real pleasure to work together to promote French and French-speaking gemology as well as the international one!
Pearl Merchants Exhibition L'ECOLE in Dubai Spring 2019 - Photo Credits: L'École - School of Jewelry Arts Supported by Van Cleef & Arpels
AsiaLounges: As we said in the introduction, on March 12th 2020, Billie Hughes had been invited by L'Ëcole to give a talk with you about gemological inclusions. Do you believe it to be important to educate the general public, the final customer, about the world inside the gems or is it driven by the increasing difficulty to find clean gems in the market? Both maybe?
Olivier Segura: Of course, as I said, general public education is the primary mission of L’École as well as that of the AFG and, when we can combine science and art as in this case it is a great pleasure. Besides us, the gemologists and the professionals who know the interior of gems, who can dive in such a beauty? It was therefore natural that I propose this discovery to our public, and the contribution of Billie was very important. With her wonderful work and her knowledge, she enchanted our audience in Paris and Hong Kong both. L’École in Paris had also modified its decoration for the occasion to display Billie's superb pictures. This work continued with an exhibition in Hong Kong and new conferences on this subject.
Here is the official video of introduction of the Ruby & Sapphire Exposition at L'École - School of Jewelry Arts with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels
AsiaLounges: We try to visit l’École every time we are in Paris, if only to be able to witness your beautiful exhibitions about the world of gems and jewelry. How often do you feature a new expo and are they only visible in your Paris location or they visit your various offices the same way Billie's expo does?
Olivier Segura: We plan two major exhibitions a year in Paris. In Hong Kong we will have also different exhibitions through the year (in May we opened “Discover the gemstones – Ruby&Sapphire” with a selection of the wonderful photomicrography by Billie Hughes.). We also had various exhibitions during our nomadic sessions, as in Dubai last year where I curated an exhibition about the “Pearl Merchants”, the outcome of one year and half of a research led by L’École. For your information, our next exhibition is dedicated to Jean Vendome, an artist Jeweler, and opened on October in Paris.
Ruby Mogok Myanmar (C)L’ÉCOLE, School of Jewelry Arts - Pala International Collection
AsiaLounges: As we follow your travel through Instagram and other social media platform we often see you in the Middle East and the far East. Are you having other locations for L’École there that people can visit and attend classes in?
Olivier Segura: Today we have 2 permanent locations, in Paris and Hong Kong. But L’École travels in New York, Dubai, Tokyo … and planed new destinations, for courses, talks, exhibitions …. So stay tuned!
AsiaLounges: Bangkok being the heart of the color gem trade, we were wondering if you were planning on setting up a campus for L’École here? If not, could you tell us more about this decision?
Olivier Segura: Well, you know how much I loved to live in Bangkok few years ago and how much I am happy every time I am back to Thailand. But you have to remember that L’École is only 8 years old! We developed many programs and courses and I can understand that there is a lot of expectation worldwide. So many was accomplished, and so many has to be accomplished … so I can’t answer now your question.
Pearl Merchants Exhibition Poster - Dubai 2019 - Photo Credits: L'École - School of Jewelry Arts Supported by Van Cleef & Arpels
AsiaLounges: Back on the topic of the expos and conferences, how are they decided? What drives you at l’Ecole to feature such creator or gemologist rather than another? Can Specialists out there propose their services to you for these events?
Olivier Segura: L’École has a steering committee assisted by a scientific committee which takes up different subjects and examines the different suggestions. On a personal point of view I am of course always interested to discover new projects and to meet passionate people!
AsiaLounges: Could you tell us more about the classes and seminars that are offered to your students? Are the same classes offered in all of your campuses or are your campuses specialized in some part of the curriculum rather than other?
Olivier Segura: As I said previously, you can find all the classes in Paris, in French and English.
As L’École just opened in Hong Kong few month ago, we don’t have all the courses available, but very soon. For our Nomadic session we usually have all the program available for 3 weeks there. We also try to propose new courses every year, as for example a new course dedicated to Ruby I developed specifically. There are no prerequisites to attend to our courses, and it is always a great pleasure for our teachers to meet so many enthusiastic students!
AsiaLounges: Our interview is slowly reaching its end and, as per usual, we’d like to ask you three advice for younger generations and loungers that would like to follow in your footsteps?
Olivier Segura: Of course like in many business it is difficult to enter the gem trade and the gemology trade and to be accepted, but Honesty, Confidence, Commitment, Frankness and Competence are the basics of our trade and the keys to enter and develop there. We can add passion of course.
But for me the most important is for one to know its limits. In science, in gemology, I encourage everyone to say "I don't know" and immediately go find out of course to provide an answer!
Then, don’t hesitate to ask question and to meet people. I had a great chance to meet wonderful professionals who gave me a lot of advice.
And at last: be yourself!
Jean Vendome Exhibition at L'École School of Jewellery Arts
AsiaLounges: Further to that last question, which are the three books that you’d recommend any gem lover to have in their library?
Olivier Segura: You kept the most difficult question for the end … as you know I am a GemBook lover, so to pick only 3 is like the usual tricky question of your favorite gemstones …
But, let say :
1 – JAR books, as in every page you will die for beauty and emotion with exquisite jewels and gemstones.
2- The Pearl Merchants Catalog, as I supervised it and wrote some pages, but also because I hope you will learn about Natural Pearl and discover the forgotten History of the natural Pearl business, when Paris was the capital of the pearls.
AsiaLounges: Thank you very much Olivier and thank you to L’Ecole as well as to l'AFG for being with us today, I am convinced that our readers, the Loungers, have enjoyed this interview as much as we did enjoy writing these lines.
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