• jenniferrighetti

From Piaget to Van Cleef & Arpels

I always loved to draw. But it took a bit of meandering to find out I wanted to make jewellery. After starting at university and then in the visual arts, a teacher suggested I try jewellery making. A week into it and I knew - this was it. I love creating beautiful objects with my hands. I discovered enamelling during a course on engraving, while attending a prestigious jewellery school to get my CFC.

A massive learning journey

My training and first years of experience working in the field prepared me to join Piaget in 2013 to launch their very first in-house enamelling atelier. I learned so much during my time there. When I arrived, I was shown to an empty glass office with a desk and a computer - the home of my future workshop. I was so shy back then. People would come into my office and I would turn red. In some of my first meetings with the designers, I was so nervous knowing I would eventually have to speak.

Coming out of my shell, from shy to proud!

One of the directors at the time, someone I admired, helped me come out of my shell. He had a lot of respect for the Metièrs d'Art and he gave me a lot of freedom to research and explore. I was able to go to Baselworld and Paris and my constant interaction with the designers was food for the soul. It was great, because I love conceiving a new object from the first vision to the finished work of art. My confidence grew together with the atelier. Visitors were always impressed by the work. Through my place there, and the atelier I established, I felt legitimate and proud.

Emily working on a wing from the Lady Arpels Papillon Automate
When change knocks

I first started contemplating a move in the summer of 2018. I checked open positions and eventually applied for to one at Van Cleef & Arpels. Through that process, I learned that it was my skill as an enamelist that interested the Maison the most. HR reached out to me and did a great job coordinating the transition. I was impressed by the teamwork across Maisons. I was 100% officially at Van Cleef & Arpels by April 2019.

The biggest change is that at Piaget, I was the only enamel artist, whereas at Van Cleef & Arpels, there's a team of us! I'm pretty autonomous and independent. Would I like working with so many people? I had no idea. Funny enough, my new colleagues are one of the things I love most about my new role. It's a joy to be able to share our experience and skills, especially for really complex pieces. We each have different strengths and skills, and everyone benefits.

From the sunny side of life to the land of enchantment

My move came at a time when I was going through a lot of challenges. One thing that really helped bring stars back into my eyes was the Van Cleef & Arpels onboarding programme. I was invited to Paris in June to visit the Paris ateliers and the Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels and truly get a sense of the spirit of the Maison. I loved the many presentations by the different department heads. It opened my eyes to the amount of passion and skill that goes into the finished product and perpetuating the tradition of the Maison. It was a truly immersive experience and I came away proud to be part of something so extraordinary.

Enamelling is the process of applying finely ground coloured glass called vitreous enamel to metal that is then fused at over 800℃
New Maison, new skills?

Being at Van Cleef & Arpels has pushed me to reach new levels of perfection. My work at Piaget was in a sense perfect too, but a little less complex. In the past year, I've learned to be even more precise, to add even more finesse. If there's one thing we know about enamelling, it's that we are always improving. Even if we follow the process exactly, we can't always guarantee the result. And that's part of the process too, accepting that sometimes the piece isn't going to turn exactly how we planned, and we may have to do it again to achieve our standards of perfection.

Crafstmanship is so precious at Van Cleef & Arpels. The project managers care deeply about our art and its limitations. They are well versed in the art of enamelling, which allows us to go further and farther, reaching unparalleled excellence.

Care above all else

I really feel supported at Van Cleef & Arpels. Everyone loves what they do, they love the Maison, there is so much passion and pride. They smile. They love the projects they're working on. The ambience here, and the kindness of my colleagues made my move so much easier. I even reunited with a former classmate from jewellery school!

So would I encourage others to seek out the same? Absolutely. It's one more experience to grow and develop. Even if my craft is still the same, changing Maisons has expanded my horizons. If I summed up my journey in three words, they would be evolution, discovery and exchange.

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