Pearls have long been the domain of proper ladies. Luminescent strands, studs and bracelets have been passed on from mothers to their daughters, with the unspoken rule that they be passed on to their daughters’ daughters as well.
It’s a legacy that’s hard to shake off, but one that Jewelmer is trying to change. At the reopening of the luxury brand’s newly renovated store at Ayala Center Cebu recently, executive vice president and deputy CEO Jacques Christophe Branellec told Inquirer Lifestyle that they want to attract a younger market, one that has no qualms about pairing their pearls with jeans and a plain white shirt.
To this end, their designers have been attempting to come up with less stodgy pieces.
“In Cebu, the brand has a reputation for catering to older customers. But, in fact, our clients are women 30 years old and above because they are the ones with a disposable income,” he said.
Apparently, some Filipino women prefer to buy their own pearls, choosing simpler pieces when they’re first starting out and then going for the more elaborate designs as they grow older.
One of the more popular designs is the Mon Secret (mohn sek-ray), a single baroque pearl dangling from a braided leather bracelet that’s available in several shades. Women can amp up the luxury factor by wearing several Mon Secret bracelets at a time, or they can dress it down with a fun assortment of arm candy.
Jewelmer’s marketing assistant Penelope Uy did the latter by piling on numerous bangles and a pearlized watch for a casual lunch.
Days before the reopening of the Cebu store, one client Jewelmer officials refused to name had quietly come in and reserved a South Sea pearl choker consisting of 25 pearls varying in size from 17 to 19 millimeters. The price for this one-of-a-kind piece that had taken years to put together? A cool $450,000 or P20 million.
If the necklace was carefully unknotted and the pearls were sold separately, each would cost approximately P800,000.
In her book “The Classic Ten: The True Story of the Little Black Dress and Nine Other Fashion Favorites,” Nancy Macdonnel Smith recalls how Mrs. Mortimer Plant persuaded her husband to trade their townhouse at the corner of 52nd Street and 5th Avenue in Manhattan for a $1.2-million strand of “perfectly matched natural pearls” from Cartier.
Cartier may have gotten the better end of the deal—the mansion still serves as the company’s New York headquarters—but you can imagine how Mrs. Plant felt every time she wore her pearls. Like a million bucks.