Push­ing the bound­aries of de­sign

Solitaire (Singapore) - - Content - BY KA­T­RINA UY

Al­though a peren­nial favourite by jewellers for their clas­sic charms, pearls proved to be one of the most chal­leng­ing ma­te­ri­als to de­sign. It didn’t help much that decades ago, pearls used in fine jew­ellery were mainly white and round, worn strictly on for­mal oc­ca­sions. To­day, though, pearl jew­ellery de­sign is much more cre­ative and flex­i­ble, thanks in part to in­flu­en­tial brands like Jewelmer Joail­lerie.

Es­tab­lished in 1979 by a French pearl farmer and a Filipino en­trepreneur, Jewelmer is based in the archipelagic prov­ince of Palawan, Philip­pines, where it har­vests South Sea pearls from its own farms. Palawan once be­longed to an an­cient trade route called the Pearl Road, where Chi­nese mer­chants traded with Philip­pine sea gyp­sies. It is called the coun­try’s “last fron­tier” for its pris­tine seas and rich ma­rine bio­di­ver­sity.

It was in Palawan that Jewelmer be­gan to pro­duce golden pearls in 1983. “It was a big risk, for at that time, the golden pearl was a very rare and lit­tle-known gem,” says Gaelle Branel­lec, the brand’s cur­rent cre­ative di­rec­tor. The com­pany’s pro­duc­tion fi­nally reached com­mer­cial quan­ti­ties in the late 1990s.

“The in­tro­duc­tion of the golden pearl brought a cer­tain warmth in the de­sign of the pearl jew­ellery cat­e­gory. It opened new pos­si­bil­i­ties, in­spir­ing de­sign­ers to play around with coloured stones as well as more mod­ern de­signs,” adds Branel­lec. In the past 10 years, golden pearls

be­came es­pe­cially pop­u­lar in China, co­in­cid­ing with the coun­try’s eco­nomic rise.

Tastes in pearl jew­ellery de­sign also evolved to ap­pre­ci­ate shapes other than round. More and more peo­ple chose ovals and but­tons, es­pe­cially in strands, pen­dants, and rings. Fash­ion spurred fur­ther in­no­va­tion and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. To­day, wear­ers of fine pearl jew­ellery tend to favour pieces that are ver­sa­tile. “They are look­ing for unique, per­sonal gems that they can match with dif­fer­ent at­tires, both for ev­ery­day en­coun­ters and for el­e­gant af­fairs,” ex­plains Branel­lec.

Jewelmer’s Spring/sum­mer 2017 col­lec­tions re­flect this open­ness. La Parisi­enne, for in­stance, fea­tures keshi pearls, also known as ‘poppy seed pearls’ and well-loved for their ex­quis­ite and rare forms. Lu­mi­nes­cence is part ar­chi­tec­tural and part abstract, tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from mo­saics and danc­ing waves. Other col­lec­tions in­clude Guimard, which em­pha­sises curvi­lin­ear forms, and Stella, which is min­i­mal­ist and mod­ern. The Pa­mana col­lec­tion fea­tures brooches shaped af­ter the Philip­pine is­lands and the Sa­ri­manok, a myth­i­cal fowl-like crea­ture.

For Jewelmer, ev­ery sea­son means a new op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate new pieces. “Our brand and our vi­sion of beauty evolve with time. We con­stantly open un­ex­plored hori­zons and of­fer new cre­ations

“With each new col­lec­tion, we of­fer the link be­tween the tra­di­tion of French cul­ture and the moder­nity of ev­ery­day life in Asia”

that un­ravel a charm yet to be dis­cov­ered,” adds Branel­lec. “With each new col­lec­tion, we of­fer the link be­tween the tra­di­tion of French cul­ture and the moder­nity of ev­ery­day life in Asia.”

Yet, even as its de­signs evolve with the times, Jewelmer’s phi­los­o­phy has re­mained con­stant in its al­most 40 years of ex­is­tence. One sta­ple is its com­mit­ment to qual­ity — only the top two per cent of its pearl har­vest are used in the brand’s col­lec­tions. One tes­ta­ment to this pa­tient per­fec­tion­ism is the one-of-a-kind Palawan strand, which strings to­gether flaw­less and per­fectly round 16mm to 18mm pearls. It took 37 years to com­plete the piece.

This fo­cus on qual­ity is con­nected to a tra­di­tion of crafts­man­ship, passed on from Place Vendôme in Paris. “Per­fec­tion is the min­i­mum re­quested to serve the per­fec­tion of the pearl. Em­ploy­ing clas­sic high jew­ellery tech­niques, our crafts­men give life to pieces that ac­cen­tu­ate the in­ter­play of light and move­ment, per­ceived from dif­fer­ent an­gles,” says Branel­lec.

The com­pany’s de­signs also con­sis­tently re­flect both French and Filipino her­itage. Branel­lec adds: “The fu­sion of ideas from our multi-cul­tural team of Filipino and Euro­pean de­sign­ers ex­presses the pas­sion, cre­ative in­no­va­tion, and crafts­man­ship that char­ac­terise our brand. By bring­ing to­gether mul­ti­ple tal­ents and per­spec­tives, through each jew­ellery cre­ation, we bring to life a piece of a dream.”

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