NECKLACE OF MOTHER-OF-PEARL CARVINGS, AMETHYST DROPS, PERIDOT BEADS IN GOLD; EARRINGS OF TANZANITE
WITH MOTHER-OF-PEARL COLLAR, DIAMONDS, AKOYA PEARLS; PENDANT OF RED TREE CORAL, PERIDOT, AKOYA
PEARLS, DIAMONDS IN GOLD; EARRINGS OF RHODOCHROSITE, DIAMONDS AND AKOYA PEARLS IN ROSE GOLD, ALL
AVAILABLE AT AUM JEWELS, THE PENINSULA MANILA
The jewelry business is a business of trust, given the precious merchandise involved.
But trust involves more than just monetary matters: the artistry, quality of work and even branding are part of every company’s heritage that need to be nurtured and developed for a family business to have a future.
These second- and third-generation jewelers know well and even saw first-hand the beginnings of their family businesses. As they now helm decades-old brands, they uphold the work ethics and craftsmanship of their elders even as they introduce new measures and design ideas.
Creole pavé earrings with detachable dangling kite motif, T. Florencio Jewelry, Shangri-La Mall
From playing in her grandparents’ workshop as a kid (“wreaking havoc,” she describes it), the Gemology Institute of America-trained Mia Florencio now runs the family business along with her mother and two younger brothers.
“It was a foregone conclusion that we’d take over,” she says. “But I’ve always liked wearing jewelry. I can talk 24/7 about it.
“My mom and my Lola weren’t formally educated in jewelry-making, but my Lola could tell a diamond’s quality. Maybe not as elaborately as the 4C we use now, but she knew her diamonds, and a client has to trust their jeweler before making such a personal purchase.”
That means making their word and work as good as, well, diamonds. “We don’t compromise our standards; when we say it’s an 18k diamond, you’re guaranteed it is.”
Jul B. Dizon Jewelry
Snowflake diamond earrings in white gold with detachable carnelian tassel; ribbon necklace in yellow gold wires and fresh water pearl; carved ivory flower ring with yellow gold cut-out details; cabochon and faceted aquamarines with blue sapphire; diamonds in white gold bracelet, all from Jul B. Dizon Jewelry
The training Candy Dizon and her two siblings got from their late mother provided such a complete picture of how the family business must be run that she feels they can’t add anything more to improve it.
“She taught us our name is everything, and we should take care of clients as if they were family. Being reliable, honest, creating quality products—all of these we still do now.”
The younger Dizons started by running errands for their mother: cleaning the shop, fixing the display, calling up clients.
“I was 12 then. There was no training in business or design sense yet, but it’s good that we started with the basics.”
Now that she and her siblings head the business, they’ve taken measures to modernize it, making it more online-friendly and active on the brand website and on Instagram.
The siblings, along with their sister-in-law Lucille, also expanded the design scope of Jul B. Dizon Jewelry with their respective aesthetics.
“With each of us doing our own designs, the most important thing is we live up to the name she built, even as we create something new and different.”
Necklace of mother of pearl carvings, amethyst drops, and peridot beads in gold; earrings of tanzanite with mother of pearl collar, diamonds, and akoya pearls; pendant of red tree coral, peridot, akoya pearls, and diamonds in gold; and earrings of rhodochrosite, diamonds and akoya pearls in rose gold, all available at Aum Jewels, The Peninsula Manila
He resisted it at first by working in finance, but the call of creativity proved too hard for Paul Syjuco to ignore. He’s honest, however, about how running a family business isn’t always a smooth road.
“Working with family isn’t easy. It took me a while to adjust to the manner of working, where you talk about business 24/7 because it’s all tied in with the family. The first few years were about adjustment—there was always conflict.”
The push and pull between tradition and modernity is one such conflict, and Syjuco settles it by pushing the envelope design-wise inch by inch.
“We continue to balance between design and wearability even as we try to keep the hand-crafting traditions alive. We use the same techniques of cutting, filing and sawing that are hundreds of years old.”
He has since opened two stores to cater to a wider market, but Syjuco remains true to the personalized approach that his mother and grandmother built the business on.
“The first two generations weren’t really doing retail, as they had their own selection of clients. Our business was never about volume anyway. We’re a small operation so when people come, they talk to me personally.”
Two-strand necklace with 27 and 29 white South Sea pearls, Jewelmer, The Peninsula Manila
It’s a globally recognized luxury brand, but if Jacques Branellec were to boil down what Jewelmer does to its most basic, he’d call it “pearl husbandry.”
“Being a pearl farmer is about taking care of the environment and the communities living around the farm. We’re on a joint venture with nature but we hold 49 percent: We can exert as much effort as we want, but at the end of the day, nature’s the one making decisions.”
Though they also face the challenges of contemporary marketing and branding—which Branellec’s sister Gaelle handles as creative director—rising water temperatures, ocean acidification and illegal fishing are also real threats. These concerns aren’t actually much different from what Jewelmer founders Jacques Branellec (the younger Branellecs’ father) and Manuel Cojuangco faced more than 30 years ago. Back then, natural calamities and the lack of appreciation for golden South Sea pearls were giant hurdles to overcome.
Branellec says, “Had the founders not been resilient, there’d be no Jewelmer today. But they fought on, and we always remember the heritage. It wasn’t an easy road to get here and it’s still not an easy road to continue on, so we keep looking for ways to do things better.”