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April 3, 2014

Sustainable Luxury: Jewelmer’s South Sea Pearl Jewelry

By Chris Boyle

For over three decades, Jewelmer has been crafting the most exquisite South Sea pearl jewelry that is enjoyed by men and women the world over.

Using only the best pearls from their harvests, the Jewelmer Joaillerie brand has become synonymous with luxury, expert craftsmanship and unforgettable designs that best showcase the Queen of Gems, the golden Philippine South Sea pearls.

Behind the warm, rich color of Jewelmer’s pearls is a unique partnership with Mother Nature. Indeed, at the core of the company’s business is an innate reverence for nature and her creations.

Cultivated in Palawan, the Philippine’s last frontier, the entire process takes between four to five years and 323 individual steps to complete—all of which have to be done correctly to increase the chance of producing gem-quality pearls. In the end, however, the characteristics of the resulting pearl are really up to Mother Nature.

“The pearl is the indicator of the health of the environment,” says Jewelmer Marketing Manager Mia Macapagal.

“Every change in the environment is recorded upon its surface, ultimately determining the quality of each pearl. Thus, imperfections on a pearl’s surface could be the mark of a typhoon, a dynamite blast, a change in current, etc. In the end, pearl farming is a combination of hard work and luck; science and a bit of magic.

“But we try and help Nature out as best we can—maintaining an environment that is both good for our Pinctada maxima oysters as well as for the wildlife that thrive in the farm.”

The waters surrounding the pearl farm concession has been declared a no-take zone, ensuring the rehabilitation and growth of coral beds that had fallen prey to human predation a few decades back. Due to the fact that marine life has been allowed to reproduce in peace, fish yield in surrounding islands has also increased from a daily yield of three kilos to 20 in the past few years.

Rare marine life such as whale sharks or butanding and sea turtles or pawikans have also been spotted languidly swimming in the pearl farm concession; an unmistakable sign of a clean environment.

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The pearl farm itself is a self-sufficient, self-sustaining compound, minimizing their carbon footprint by using solar panels to power the farm’s freezers, lights, and pumps. The company is also exploring the use of coco diesel, an organic fuel that presently powers single-engine pumps that clean oyster baskets. The farm’s waste water passes through a rapid sand filter and is reused in areas such as the farm’s laboratory to clean oysters prior to operation.

The company has also established the Save the Palawan Seas Foundation (SPSF) in order to educate partner communities about sustainable livelihood practices that are beneficial to both the environment as well as for their income. Including projects such as cashew and organic vegetable farming, bee-keeping, medical missions, and educational campaigns, SPSF has successfully taught residents of Southern Palawan an alternative way of living: in harmony instead of destruction.

“Known for their rarity and beauty, golden South Sea pearls are nature’s finest gifts,” says Jewelmer Managing Director Jacques Branellec. “Every time we see a golden pearl, we see the promise of a clean environment.”

By taking nothing from nature but in fact adding to and protecting it, Jewelmer has earned
recognition as the Sustainability Initiative of the Year by Jewellery News Asia. Awarded in the recently concluded September Hong Kong Jewellery and Watch Fair, Jewelmer is the first to earn this acclaim.

Jewelmer’s Assistant Managing Direct Pierre Fallourd issued this heartfelt statement following the announcement: “Sustainability is the cornerstone of our heritage and we are very honored that this value is acknowledged by our peers in the industry. We accept this recognition on behalf of all responsible pearl farmers who firmly believe that the pearl is a time capsule; it comes to life as a physical witness of the beauty and pristine conditions of the environment from which it hails.

“Although this is a dimension of the business that people tend to miss, there are few operations that come close to pearl farming in terms of environmental protection. Rather than a series of acts, this is truly a way of life that spans every department of operation. Our values have been passed on from our founders for whom conservation, sustainability, and longevity are a lifestyle.”

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