An ode to the Philippines’ golden South Sea pearl

Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2010 Venus Raj dressed in Rhett Eala, featuring ‘The Miracle of the Golden Pearl’

Binibining Pilipinas-Universe 2010 Venus Raj dressed in Rhett Eala, featuring ‘The Miracle of the Golden Pearl’

MOTHER NATURE has blessed the Philippines with rich landscapes, a diverse ecosystem, and beautiful marine life. As an archipelago of 7,107 islands surrounded with vast bodies of water, Filipinos have naturally formed a special relationship with the seas, which besides providing sustenance also offers them beautiful treasures.

With nature and nurture as its theme, international Filipino-French company Jewelmer Joaillerie celebrates 35 years of the harmonious relationship of man with the seas, which has enabled the company—and the world—to experience the precious “Miracle of the Golden Pearl.”

Different from their past annual galas, Jewelmer marked this landmark anniversary with a grand spectacle at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on September 23.

Very creatively, the presentation depicted mankind amid nature’s beauty and destruction. Immersed and in awe of his environment, he soon realizes his role to care for the earth leading to its triumphant restoration. This is a tribute of Jewelmer to nature, recognizing that the company owes its existence to this symbiosis.

Prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde inspires the audience with her performance

Prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde inspires the audience with her performance

“This show and its message is very meaningful to us as we celebrate 35 years of the ‘Miracle of the Golden Pearl.’ As we give importance to the Philippine National Gem, we are also celebrating a 35-year relationship with our colleagues and our loyal clients, while promoting the Philippines through the golden South Sea pearl not only locally but around the world ,” explained Jewelmer Joaillerie’s senior vice president and creative director Gaelle Branellec to The Manila Times in a one-on-one interview.

“The golden South Sea pearl has always been something that we’ve been proud of and regarded very seriously because it is a symbol of the harmony between man and nature. As long as there are pearls, there is going to be life,” she enthused.

Cultivating miracles
Historically, it is said that the largest pearl in the world is found in the Philippines. Discovered in 1934, it is known as the Pearl of Lao Tzu. Since then, many have explored the Philippine seas, famed for its beauty, rich marine life, and for these treasures thereby earning the reputation as the “Pearl of the Orient.”

Pronounced as the Philippine National Gem by former President Fidel Ramos in 1996, pearls harvested from the country remain to be the best in industry.

Creative director Gaelle Branellec with her brother, deputy CEO Jacques Christophe

Creative director Gaelle Branellec with her brother, deputy CEO Jacques Christophe

For Jewelmer, its “Miracle of the Golden Pearl” began in 1979 when a French pearl farmer and Filipino entrepreneur combined their genius to cultivate this rare type of pearl.

“The story is about two individuals—a French pearl farmer and Filipino entrepreneur—who met through the journey of ‘The Mircale of the Golden Pear.’ Very early on, they had the grand vision of creating something perfect in our pearl jewelries,” the creative director said.

Besides the pearls, the main characters of Jewelmer’s story are Filipino businessman Manuel Cojuanco who partnered with the company’s president and chief executive officer Jacques Branellec 35 years ago. Together, they cultivated the rare golden South Sea pearl.

The second generation Branellecs proudly recall how their father helped to build this local jewelry empire now known all over the world. Lovingly, they shared the miracle that has been at the center of every Jewelmer piece three and a half decades later.

“Since the beginning, when the first golden pearl was harvested, it was one in a thousand of its kind, so it was indeed a miracle. It takes about five years to harvest a single golden pearl and involves over 300 processes to find one—a miracle that unfolds every time,” said the brand’s young group executive vice president and deputy chief CEO Jacques Christophe Branellec to The Manila Times.

Gaelle continued, “When the company first found the golden South Sea pearl, it was something no one knew about. Everyone knew about white or black pearls, but the golden pearl was unknown. So to us, this is why it was considered a miracle.

“You see, our business is very much related to the environment. For a single pearl to give birth, there has to be enough plankton, the condition of the sea has to be perfect, you need the right weather—so you are always at the mercy of Mother Nature. We really work hand in hand with her,” she added.

Collection: the three elements
In an elaborate show directed by Saga Production’s Roby Carmona, the Philippines’ most beautiful celebrities and fashion models presented Jewelmer’s 2015 Spring-Summer Collection.

Rhett Eala designed the gowns for the nature-inspired production, which also focused on the three elements of the environment—earth, air, and water.

Indie film actor Arnold Reyes played the role of mankind, at sea when he receives the wrath of nature in a storm. He meets Mother Nature in the beautiful Angel Aquino, and there he begins his journey into discovering the miracle of earth’s elements.

Ballet Manila, Air Dance, Philippine All Stars, and the Hot Legs provided the inspired movements of the grand production, with music by the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and the University of Sto. Tomas singers.

Prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elzalde was also featured in the presentation, leaving the audience in awe as they also marveled at Jewelmer’s new collection. Included are exquisite pieces Linea de Oro, Zen, Dolce Rosa, Tropics, Via Rosa, Bollicine, C’est la Vie and Toccata.

Among the prominent guests spotted at the PICC were French Ambassador Gilles Garachon and European Union Ambassador to the Philippines Guy Ledoux.

Top models who showcased the jewelry included beauty queens Shamcey Supsup and Venus Raj, as well as fashion models Joann Bitagcol, Brazilian-Japanese Vanessa Matsunaga, Jasmine Maerhofer, and Ria Bolivar, among many others.

Giving back
Emphasizing man’s responsibility toward Mother Nature, the second generation Branellecs further discussed their Save the Palawan Seas advocacy in the community of the company’s Palawan pearl farm.

“Our project in Palawan has been ongoing for decades, however the foundation itself was established only a few years ago. Pearl farming, to encapsulate the whole idea, is not really about producing pearls. It’s about taking care of the environment, taking care of the community, and the people taking care of the oysters. Our philosophy is that perhaps, if we do everything right, we might get the pearl as a reward. So, nature preservation is really intrinsic in all the activities that we do,” the deputy CEO related.

With the company’s long-standing joint venture with nature, Jewelmer accepts that in cultivating nature’s gift, they have to give back to the community through livelihood projects, as well as help protect the seas from illegal fishing activities and other destructive threats. Currently, the Branellecs and Cojuanco equally own the company.

Thus, in its 35th year, Jewelmer continues to grow with very dedicated stewards with its pearl farmers and jewelry makers even taking up courses in marine biology to further enhance the quality of their products and better care for the seas. As it has in the last 35 years, it is through this perfect symbiosis that this famous jewelry brand continues to shine worldwide.


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