Humans have been adorning themselves with jewellery since before history was recorded, which means there is a lot to learn when studying jewellery design today. Jewellery also continues to evolve alongside tastes, materials, and technology, which creates an ongoing challenge for Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) Jewellery Art and Design program: fitting everything into a two-year diploma.
During the program’s recent renewal process, VCC’s Jewellery Art and Design faculty worked with top local employers and artists to closely examine the curriculum and re-imagine it with today’s jewellery industry in mind. The result was a fully updated Jewellery Art and Design diploma that, starting in September 2022, will offer students more hands-on practice and technical skills than ever before.
“The hands-on fabrication of jewellery is what students love and want, and we never had enough time to really get into the techniques,” says VCC Jewellery Art and Design department leader Julie Anctil.
To carve out the additional time for hands-on practice, the department made the difficult decision to condense and/or streamline certain classes on theory, history, and gemmology (the geoscience of gemstones). “The students did like these classes, but they were just too in depth for our two-year diploma,” says Julie. “Students can still go on to study these things, but we needed to go practical.”
In addition to 20 per cent more time in the labs honing their craft, students will also learn new in-demand skills that hadn’t been taught previously, including jewellery repair and sizing. Also, as jewellery drawing and design techniques continue to shift into the digital realm, students will now spend less time sketching by hand and more time with the latest Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools – including the industry-standard Rhinoceros 3D – as well as 3D printing technology.
According to Julie, the ability to make such cutting-edge revisions and access the latest technology is due to VCC’s unique position as a public college. “This program has been around for a very long time. It’s very dear to us,” she says, noting that VCC hosts the only two-year Jewellery Art and Design diploma in Western Canada, the others being in Toronto and Montreal.
“Even in the United States, some very good schools have recently closed down,” Julie adds.
Jobs for Jewellery Art and Design grads can vary widely, and many go on to work as bench goldsmiths for jewellery companies, independent jewellery designers or artists, or in jewellery retail or sales.
VCC Jewellery Art and Design offers 20 seats each September, and the recent program revisions have only increased student interest. Applicants are required to present a portfolio, resumé, and letter of intent, and participate in an interview. “We want students who are committed and willing to grow,” says Julie. “It’s definitely a niche, but we truly love what we do.”
Learn more about VCC Jewellery Art and Design and apply now for our next available intake.