LVMH and Tiffany Team Up for Inclusive Training Program
Making room at the bench: Collaboration aims to foster diverse community of aspiring jewelry artisans.
In 2022, I attended at least a dozen industry events and half as many committees in the US and abroad. The topic of almost every conversation invariably turned to the shortage of bench jewelers in the US.
Apparently, someone was listening, because LVMH’s Métiers d’Excellence (ME) Institute announced in July that it would be opening its inaugural branch in the United States in partnership with Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany will be the first American house to participate in the program, which was already operating in six other countries. The objective is to train the next generation of jewelry craftspeople, enabling apprentices to learn artisanal, design and retail excellence. In 2020, the program boasted a 97% combined graduation rate at all its branches, with an impressive 78% of graduates getting job placements in the métiers they studied. What is noteworthy about the work/study format is the criteria: No prior qualifications are necessary, and there are no fees to participate.
Last July, Tiffany launched its Tiffany Atrium social impact platform, which “focuses on three core pillars: creativity, education and community,” according to Mary Bellai, the company’s chief human-resources officer and global senior vice president. The collaboration with LVMH falls under the “education” pillar.
“Tiffany Atrium aims to increase opportunities for a wide range of communities and individuals with different skill sets, ranging from experienced jewelers to individuals without a formal jewelry background,” Bellai explains. The ME Institute’s minimal application requirements help further that goal. “Essentially, applicants need to have a high school degree and be open to learning.”
The bench-jeweler field “is still largely male-dominated,” Bellai notes. As such, the LVMH application process focused on recruiting professionals — especially women — from historically underrepresented communities. LVMH and Tiffany worked diligently with the New York Department of Labor to register the program, followed by an extensive review and selection process. Tiffany will support a two-year training regimen of jewelry design and fabrication, including rotations throughout its workshops.
The value of inclusion
The work of creating a more inclusive jewelry trade “is not new to our brand,” says Bellai. “We have always been guided by the belief that a successful company has a responsibility to the greater community.”
The company’s efforts have provided a number of opportunities for students and institutions, she adds. Even the Carters have gotten involved — yes, those Carters: Beyoncé and Jay-Z. In 2021, Tiffany announced its partnership with the two music icons via the About Love Scholarship Program.
“We pledged $2 million in scholarship funding for students in the arts and creative fields at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) through 2024,” Bellai reports.
With Tiffany trailblazing in the social-impact space, the luxury industry will hopefully see some much-needed diversity and inclusion.
Image: Students visit Tiffany & Co. as part of an educational initiative for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). (Tiffany & Co.)