The imposing seven-story Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry, often photographer for architecture magazines because of its unique design, juts up into the sky directly where the three most important fashion districts in Tokyo converge. Just the right surroundings for the inspiration and creativity necessary to the studies of the large number of jewelry students there.
With over 2000 students and approximately 200 professors and guest lecturers from Japan and abroad, the Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry is one of the largest schools of its kind worldwide and the only semi-private school in Tokyo that specializes in jewelry. Founded in 1966 by the current director, Takahiko Mizuno, the college was accredited as a professional school in 1979 and as a non-profit organization in 1983. This authorization has enabled the school to receive a permit from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to provide licensed career counseling and visa arrangements for the overseas students. Hiko Mizuno offers a warm welcome at any time to foreign students, instructors, and industry guests, and invites overseas jewelry artists every year to hold summer workshops and give slide presentations. The school has also established long, close ties with overseas universities by exchanging students and holding exhibitions together, such as the “Three-Country Co-Exhibition” between Hiko’s students and students from two art colleges in Europe (the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, in Munich, and Amsterdam’s Gerrit Rietveld Academie).
Contacts to the jewelry industry
At the Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry, close tres to the jewelry industry are valued at least as highly as good overseas contacts. Connections to world-renowned companies and institutions such as the World Gold Council, Platinum Guild International, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Rolex, and Patek Philippe allow the school to keep a close networking ability and benefit both Hiko Mizuno and the businesses in exchanging information and seeking employment. The degree to which the school involves itself on behalf of its students’ professional careers is shown by the number of employees who are exclusively concerned with student employment opportunities. Hiko’s employment counseling office has five professional staff members who offer private consultations as well as group guidance for entire classes. In the course of its existence, the school has been able to place over 3,300 graduates among nearly all the large jewelry companies in Japan.
Designer or lifestyle manager?
The educational offerings at the Hiko Mizuno College of Jewelry include various options for budding jewelry designers and watchmakers; as a further course of study that complements the lifestyle industry a shoemaking course is planned for 2004. Students may choose between full time and part time diplomas that address various aspects of the study of design. Students are taught not only the skills of the craft, but also an aesthetic sense and knowledge of marketing. A full time course of study runs from craft-oriented disciplines such as “Jewelry Design Product,” “Metal Craft,” and “Art Jewelry” courses all the way through “Jewelry Coordination” and “Fashion Accessory “Jewelry coordinators train to acquire the ability to handle jewelry business such as marketing plans, market research, basic gemological knowledge and store management, while graduates in the “Fashion Accessory” course put their emphasis on jewelry making techniques in coordination with fashion. The students naturally learn about their future clients, not least because of the school’s location at the intersection of Tokyo’s fashion meccas Shibuya, Harajuku, and Aoyama.
Diplomas for watch making courses can be achieved only after a two- or three-year course of study. Both courses are designed to develop repair skills and watch designing techniques. In the 3rd year, students also learn about complicated watches such as chronographs. As watch technicians are in short supply worldwide, Hiko has established an officially accredited watch course in compliance with the Japan Watch Importers Association’s request to train highly skilled watch technicians. The 3-year WOSTEP correspondence course was established in close collaboration with the world-renowned Swiss watch school WOSTEP WOSTEP certifies those who have passed the exam as highly skilled international watchmakers.
Learning for life
Students can prepare for “real” life after their studies by means of an unusual project. In the colleges own jewelry shop, corazón + corazón, students and graduates have the possibility of offering their jewelry to the public, thus learning what kind of jewelry is in demand among the public. Every month the results of all sales are posted on the school’s bulletin board.