Illusion set, white gold–and pearls as always–are the rage in women’s jewelry

With their disposable income, Filipina professionals have become more discerning in their choices

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AMETHYST, blue and white topaz ring, stud earrings and shocker set in 14-karat blackand-white gold setting. PHOTO BY ALANAH TORRALBA

As far as diamonds go, size still matters, the bigger the better. But today’s sophisticated women have also become smarter and more discerning in their choice of jewelry.

“Women today are fussy. They know their jewelry, and when it comes to diamonds they know exactly what to look for,” said Susan Caperonce Florete, who set up F&C Jewelry (www.fncjewelry.com) in 1973 with her husband Marcelino Florete Jr. in Iloilo City.

Women, like all diamond lovers, stick to the four Cs of what to look for—color, cut, clarity and carat. It’s a combination of all of these factors—not alone size—that makes them buy jewelry.

The more discerning predisposition of women toward diamonds has also something to do with the fact that nowadays, they have to support their lifestyle.

The contemporary Filipino woman has become independent, said Marjorie C. Florete, F&C head of personnel. The daughter of the Floretes, Marjorie is a graduate gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

“Women now have disposable incomes,” Florete said. “Gone are the days when we wait for the man to buy us jewelry. Jewelry is a statement. It shows who they are and their personality.”

Her sister, Marissa Florete-Gorriceta, agreed. Marissa is the head of merchandising and marketing, and is also a graduate of GIA with diplomas in Diamond Grading and Jewelry Design.

The Florete sisters are the third-generation Caperonces in the jewelry industry. Their grandmother had moved from Bulacan to Iloilo City, and in 1949 opened a shop in the Visayas.

It was Susan who expanded the business, setting up F&C (Florete and Caperonce) in 1973 around Iloilo and, a good 15 years later, finally brought the brand to Manila.

“I would go around jewelry stores here in Manila and thought I had better display at home,” said Susan. “But it was difficult to open shop here in Makati. Nobody knew us so they didn’t want us in. It was only in 1992 when we were able to set up a shop in Quad.”

Today F&C has more than 50 branches all over the country, with Marissa’s family relocating to Manila just a few months ago so she can personally oversee the company’s growth and direction. Marjorie, meanwhile, is busy handling the special requests of select clients.

ON VANESSA Matsunaga: clustered diamond illusion dangling earrings in 18-karat white gold; diamond necklace; floral diamond ladies’ rings; 8-tiered diamond bracelet. PHOTO BY ALANAH TORRALBA

The sisters said they’re no “COOs (children of the owner)” who don’t know the business and have become executives just because they’re family.

Exposed to the business at an early age, they said they learned the ropes like everyone else. Their parents, they said, made sure of that. Their first “job,” for instance, when both were in grade school, was to sweep the floor of the store. They later became sales personnel.

“Early on we were already exposed to the business. It’s important to know every aspect of the business, otherwise you wouldn’t know what to do,” Marissa said.

About 70 percent of F&C’s growing women market consists of young professionals, moms and housewives. The rest of the 30 percent are women of leisure who order bespoke jewelry.

Hot trends

Since a bulk of their market are young professionals, it’s not surprising that the hottest trend today are illusion set jewelry, they said. These are pieces of finely cut stones so calibrated to give an appearance of one single large stone. An illusion set of four marquee stones and four princess-cut stones, for instance, will sparkle even from afar.

“People are always looking for value for money,” said Marjorie. “With illusion set jewelry, you get more bang for your buck. It looks big without being so expensive.”

The color preferences today, she said, are rose gold, violet gold and black gold, not just with the usual rubies, emeralds, sapphires and amethysts, but with citrine, rose quartz, iolites and kunzites.

“White gold is here to stay since it came back more than 10 years ago,” said Marissa. “It’s fun and it’s not too loud to wear or visually heavy. But because there’s also a steady rise of the maximalist trend yellow gold still sells, it’s making a comeback in accessories.”

The classic Filipino jewelry, however, are pearls, said Marjorie. Pearls are simple, elegant and understated, so they’ve become part of the everyday fashion statement of the typical Filipino office worker.

MARJORIE Florete, Susan Florete and Marissa Florete. PHOTO BY ALANAH TORRALBA

Susan said jewelry that moves as you move will always look good anywhere.

Earrings, said Marissa, take the eyes off your wrinkles. If you want jewelry that will enhance your face, go for drop earrings, she added.

Show off that tan by wearing yellow gold, said Marjorie. “As long as you enjoy it, it looks beautiful on you and you have the confidence to wear it, then by all means go for it.”

New Age jewelry is well-liked with women buying rose quartz if they want to find love, citrine or yellow stones to attract good fortune for their business, or blue stones like topaz and aqua marines to resolve personal conflicts.

Diamonds, however, are still the most coveted stone. With F&C’s zero-percent interest on all major credits cards, said Marissa, it looks like the girl’s best friend has now become even more accessible.

F&C has branches in all SM malls nationwide and Glorietta, Ayala Center, Makati. Visit www.fncjewelry.com.

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