The story appears on

Page B12

April 13, 2012

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » StyleHai

High-end jeweler roughs it in mines around the world

GEMOLOGIST and jewelry designer Paloma Sanchez delves into the world's far-flung mines and quarries to find unique stones for designs in her Beijing studio.

The Madrid native's travels for exotic stones have taken her from the marshlands of Myanmar and Southeast Asia to the mines of Montana and Arizona in the United States. In Africa she has searched in Morocco, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Namibia, and in South Americas she has visited Mexico, Colombia and other countries.

While most jewelry designers buy stones from wholesalers, Sanchez loves to immerse herself in the places where the stones come from. She lodges in villages, eats the food and learns locals' beliefs about their gemstones.

It's in her Beijing atelier where she creates her unusual, sometimes whimsical designs. If each stone has already made a geological journey to discover itself, Sanchez only wants to enhance it as a piece of art.

Why did you pursue gemology?

When I finished law school, I didn't know what I wanted to do or study. I spent one year in Venezuela and there I visited a diamond mine in the Amazonian jungle. I was so impressed with the contrast between what I always saw as a luxury product and the real origin of it - the miners, their life in the mine, the mining procedures, the formation of a gemstone, the passion diamonds generated in miners' hearts, going far beyond economic value. That changed my entire perception of a gemstone and I knew I needed to learn everything about such a fascinating product of nature. I earned my degree as a graduate gemologist and jewelry designer from the world-renowned Gemological Institute of America in Los Angeles.

How did you launch your jewelry line?

I have always worked in the jewelry business, with high-end jewelry and watch brands but never was able to actually create a piece of jewelry. When I came to China, with a Swiss watch company in 2006, I thought it was time to use all my experience with big brands and my design and gemological skills ... I quit my job and started my own business.

Why do you personally visit mines and source the stones around the world instead of purchasing from wholesalers?

I think it's very important to know where a gemstone comes from, to see the land where it's born, to meet the people who leave in these countries and the miners who search for it. It's important to live with them, eat their food, know their beliefs in their gemstones, the properties and powers they attribute to them. This gives me a better understanding of a stone so I am better able to appreciate its beauty. You will never look at a Colombian emerald the same way after experiencing the passion of Colombian people and Colombian emerald miners for it.

Where have you found gemstones?

I have searched for opals in Ethiopia, fire opals and fire agate in Mexico, emeralds in the Muzo and Chivor mines in Colombia; morganite (pink beryl), star rose quartz, sapphires, aquamarine, tourmalines in Madagascar; azurites in Morocco; pietersites in Namibia; sleeping beauty tourquoise in Arizona; aquamarines, Tektite and Andesine in China; spinels in Myanmar and rubies from Vietnam.

What makes your collection special?

It's the combination of rough and faceted gemstones, the combination of different metals (gold, silver, silicium, copper, chromium, meteorites), the pleasure to play with different textures, the contrast in one piece using very expensive (such as diamond) gemstones together with ordinary (tektite/natural glass) ones. Everything is one-of-a-kind, hand-made and they all reflect passion from the very beginning in the mines to the final step in the workshop.

What jewelry trends do you foresee?

People are getting more and more educated and what they are looking for is this very special, unique piece that could even be considered a piece of art.

What is next for you?

I will be very happy if I could just keep searching the world for gemstones and transforming my dreams into jewelry creations.

Address: A115, No. 81 Sanlitun Road N., Nali Patio, Beijing


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend