Delving on the topic of sustainable beauty, Jewelmer and Tatler Philippines host a virtual gathering to talk about why the country's national gem should be protected and to share some advice on maintaining your pearls' beauty

"The journey of a pearl is a beautiful manifestation of the circle of life; we give utmost care to Mother Nature and she gives us back a precious gift." This statement from the Tatler Philippines-produced video for Jewelmer last year was reified during an intimate virtual party hosted by both brands, with Tatler Homes Philippines editor Stephanie Zubiri as the moderator.

The attendees had a lively conversation about their finest pieces from Jewelmer, the company's long standing advocacy to save the Palawan seas and its people amid the threats of climate change and the pandemic, as well as some interesting notes on taking care of pearls.

Everyone enjoyed engaging in the conversation while savouring the delectable spread of modern Spanish food, with a touch of Filipino influence. But the highlight of the experience kit was actually the Mother of Pearl shell. Not only can it be a beautiful addition to one's home decor but also carries some wellness attributes, said Jacques Christophe Branellec, EVP and deputy CEO of Jewelmer. He explained that its calcium carbonate and aragonite crystal materials contain positive energy—just like the pearl—and therefore attracts calmness and peace.

Read More: Jacques Christophe and Mia Branellec on Living Sustainably

For avid collectors of Jewelmer's finest pieces, Branellec shared some care tips and trivia about the pearls:

THERE ARE FIVE FACTORS OF VALUE TO DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF A PEARL

Branellec reminded everyone that pearls cannot be cut, polished, faceted or shaped and appears as what nature intends them to be. First, you should check is its shape, which could be round, drop, button, or baroque. The rarest of them all to be harvested is the perfectly spherical shape that we usually see in our earrings and necklaces. Surprisingly, not all oysters can produce that shape consistently.

The next thing to check is the colour, which could be white, créme rosé, champagne, and gold for the Philippine pearls. One should also take a point of the pearl's size. Obviously, the bigger it is, the rarer. Most South Sea Pearls they harvest are 10 to 11 millimetres. Smaller sizes are also rare for the species of pearl-producing oyster that we have. Branellec shared to everyone at the virtual party the biggest golden South Sea Pearl that they have in the company and claimed that it is priceless.

Skin purity is another factor to look into. Branellec said that it is rarer for pearls to have fewer impurities. But what sets the pearl special, he said, is its lustre. It is the defining characteristic of a high-quality pearl. To check it, Branellec shared a trick: put your fingernail against the pearl and if you see a clear reflection of your finger, that means the pearl is of very high lustre.

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SUSTAINABILITY IS IMPORTANT AS THERE IS A DIRECT CORRELATION BETWEEN THE QUALITY OF THE SEAS AND THE PEARLS THEY PRODUCE

The South Sea Pearl is a powerful and mysterious gem that has become our country's pride ever since. Being the only naturally-produced gem by a living organism, it requires a lot of love and care from its stewards.

Branellec reminded the ladies at the virtual gathering that pearl production is tedious work. It takes an oyster, particularly the Pinctada maxima for the South Sea Pearl, five years to produce a single pearl. "It's like giving birth to a child, you'll never know what it looks like or its characteristics until it finally comes out," Branellec said. For Jewelmer to create a pair of identical pearls to complete a set of earrings or a strand necklace would require harvesting thousands of pearls.

With the effects of climate change are being felt now more than ever, the jewellery brand is at the mercy of Nature. Thus Branellec, together with the communities around the pearl farm, are relentless in preserving our nation's treasure by also taking care of the environment and educating future generations about the power of pearl.

Read More: How To Run A Family Business: Lessons From Jewelmer's Jacques Christophe Branellec

PEARLS ARE MEANT TO BE WORN TO MAINTAIN THEIR LUSTRE

While most of us are in the comfort of our homes and miss dressing up for social engagements outdoor, here's a reminder: keep wearing your pearls. Branellec said that these precious gems lose their lustre when they are tucked away in a dry case. They need to be in a humid environment or better yet, against your skin.

"[The] Pearl, being an organic gem, [has] protein within the layers of nacre. That protein loves humidity, so keeping the pearl in a hot area will make the protein dry up," Branellec explained. He further shared that we are blessed that we are in the tropics as pearls do not look well during the winter season. Our body temperature and natural oils keep our pearls shiny and radiant. Branellec shared a trick in keeping our pearls happy while in a safety deposit box: put a shot glass of water beside it so that the safe will, at least, be a little bit humid.

He also gave another reminder: refrain from wearing your pearls while swimming in a pool. Branellec said that harmful chemicals like chlorine can affect the lustre of a pearl, and worse, it could damage the silk thread they are strung with. But he assured that wearing them while swimming in the sea is safe as that's where they came from. To top it all off, wearing them by the beach will make you look fabulous.

PEARLS CAN BE WORN BY ANYONE

Back in the Middle Ages, knights sworn to do their duty to their kingdoms wear pearls as talismans. Eventually, they have become ornamental pieces to crowns and tiaras of European royalties. Today people of all ages, genders, and social status wear pearls, may it be in social gatherings or business meetings, to exhibit understated elegance, confidence, and inner power.

For those who are young professionals and just beginning their appreciation journey of pearls, having a pair of 10 or 11mm pearl stud earrings is the easy way to go. It is affordable, easy on the ears, and elegant, that you could wear anything with it and have it almost every day. Branellec also recommended having a single pearl pendant with perhaps a gold chain necklace for the young age group. "Those are the most classic and iconic pieces that I think every woman should have," Branellec said.

PEARLS ARE JOINT PROJECT WITH NATURE AND THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Taking care of the oysters is not the entire story behind Jewelmer's pearl production. Together with almost 800 pearl farmers, marine biologists, divers, and more, the company protects about 40,000 hectares of marine areas in Palawan. Branellec emphatically shared to the guests how they struggled with their community at the onset of the pandemic. He said that what mattered most to them at the time was providing everyone all the essential goods and daily necessities. Similarly, they experienced this kind of camaraderie and fraternity during the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda, which he shared in the documentary film, Power of Pearl.

It is indeed a cycle—of respecting the sea, of nurturing the oysters and the environment, of meticulously caring for the pearls, and of seeing that the community works as one, then designing gorgeous pieces that ultimately find their homes with owners, who will in turn, treasure and care for these magnificent gems.

Read More: The Making of Documentary Film "Power of Pearl", Which Features Jewelmer's Pearl Farm