Rapaport Magazine

Studying from a distance 

The landscape for remote learning has accelerated since the pandemic, with organizations and influencers launching new online courses.

By Sarah Jordan

There’s a clear correlation between the Covid-19 pandemic and the growth of online services, in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) circles. When people can’t meet and interact in person, the next best thing is to log in to a digital platform. But even as the world returns to some sense of normality, many are staying online — not out of necessity, but because of the practical benefits. This is evident in the rise of remote educational and professional-development courses in the jewelry sector.

Beginners’ luck

At the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A), the shift toward remote learning has resulted in a beginner-level, online-only gemology course called “GemIntro” that targets “people starting and strengthening their careers,” according to Gem-A CEO Alan Hart. “We can now offer accurate and engaging information to an international audience with fewer barriers to learning. This is a great opportunity as a trade to cut through internet misinformation and share essential gemology principles en masse.” To that end, companies can purchase “GemIntro” access in bulk and amalgamate the program into corporate training packages.

Swiss fine-jewelry brand Gübelin took a similar approach when it launched the Gübelin Academy for both enthusiastic amateurs and jewelry professionals in January 2021. Its “Coloured Gem Professional” course responds to “a highly competitive and fast-changing industry,” according to president Raphael Gübelin. The academy’s website also advertises bespoke corporate training packages, including the purely online “Coloured Gem Professional: Level 1” certificate program.

Polishing their skills

For those already working in the industry, there are resources such as the Natural Diamond Council (NDC), which has focused its distance-learning efforts on upskilling retail sales associates.

“We felt that our retail partners needed support [to help improve their] ‘selling ceremony’” for natural diamonds, says Gabrielle Grazi, vice president of retail strategy and partnerships at the NDC. “The things we explore in this series of interactive lessons strengthen professionals, which trickles down to the customer and increases demand for natural diamonds.”

Digital learning allows those with specialist skills to share them more broadly. Hélène Karpov and her sister Jeanne created “The Art of the Gouache” to teach traditional watercolor painting techniques online. Their latest course, “Perfect Your Pavé,” is the fifth in a successful series.

“We simply lack time to give in-person courses,” Hélène Karpov explains. “Many of our students come from the jewelry design field. We also have gemstone traders who want to be able to create illustrations for their blogs, and fine-art students who want to specialize in jewelry design.”

Marketing expertise

Other efforts aim to enhance jewelers’ business acumen, especially in digital marketing. Jewelry blogger and editor Katerina Perez has launched two online courses since Spring 2021: “How to Sell Jewellery on Instagram” and “Brilliant Content.”

“There was nothing jewelry-specific available to emerging and established business owners,” she explains. “I was able to package all my social media experience into a 13-week online course and provide international jewelry designers with something adapted to their needs. So far, both courses have exceeded my expectations.”

Similarly focusing on digital marketing expertise is London-based charity The Goldsmiths’ Centre, which offers professional training to goldsmiths and silversmiths. “The online learning space has gotten broader than [it was] pre-pandemic,” says Chris Oliver, the charity’s head of professional training, who recently helped introduce self-paced courses in online video content and social media. “We’re no longer confined by the size of a room or the cost of a travel ticket.”

Jewelry professionals can benefit from online courses that are sector-specific, flexible and financially accessible. Organizations and institutions, meanwhile, can benefit from creating them. While producing a course requires an up-front investment, it can continue to exist online as a long-term source of passive income — one with the added bonus of educating people about the trade.

Image: Katerina Perez

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2022. To subscribe click here.

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Tags: Sarah Jordan