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| 8/11/2009 12:00:00 AM

A Career Set in Gemstones: Claudia Arbelaez's Journey into Jewelry

Aug 11--GROWING UP IN Colombia, young Claudia Arbelaez saw a future in fashion. She studied design, showed a small collection during Fashion Week 2004 in her native country, and designed uniforms and the wardrobe for an opera.

A Career Set in Gemstones: Claudia Arbelaez's Journey into Jewelry A Career Set in Gemstones: Claudia Arbelaez's Journey into Jewelry
hen — poof: Her mother died, Arbelaez met her future husband, and she spent 2006 in Milan to delve into her field. The next year her new husband won a Fulbright, and they moved to a third continent so he could study at the University of Maryland.

Arbelaez looked for a fashion-related job, but nothing around Washington paid well or — after all these changes — had much appeal anymore.

Jewelry did, though. Her mom had loved jewelry, and skills in that area could transfer to Colombia when the couple moved back after two years. "Jewelry is more rewarding because people see more meaning in it than in clothes," she says. "Also, it lasts longer."

Arbelaez enrolled in the jewelry-design certificate program at the Corcoran College of Art + Design (1801 35th St. NW; 202-298-2542; Corcoran.edu/ce). To pay for school and gain experience, she took a low-level jewelry job at Lund Trading in Columbia, Md.

The certificate comprises 10 courses, which most students complete in 1 1/2 to two years. Classes cost $1,343 (noncredit students pay about half that), and most have an $80 lab fee. The Corcoran's next open house is 2 p.m. on Oct. 24 at 500 17th St. NW.
 
Read more here.
 
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