By Dom Galeon
It is often not easy to inherit a successful enterprise. There is always the pressure of living up to the standards of those that have come before you. There is also that desire to do more, to take the success you inherited, and to build something even bigger and bolder out of it.
For Jacques Christophe Branellec, who has joined his father Jacques Branellec in running the proudly local and globally successful luxury brand Jewelmer, it’s all about learning how to work with the currents.
“One of the many things my father always reminded me is that if you can sail a boat, you can understand and thrive in this field,” says Jacques Christophe, EVP and deputy CEO of Jewelmer Joaillerie. “It’s about working with the currents and never imposing your way—your energy attuned to the energy of the environment. It’s about listening deeply to all people and to all things that drive the ship forward.”
Established in 1979, Jewelmer was founded as a partnership between Jacques Christophe’s French father and Filipino entrepreneur Manuel Cojuangco. Setting up shop in the former’s pearl farm in Palawan, the duo envisioned Jewelmer to be the leading manufacturer of exquisitely fine jewelry that uses cultured South Sea pearls, which are the rarest, most luxurious pearls in the world. Palawan is among the few places in the world where the Pinctada maxima oyster that produces the golden South Sea pearl can thrive.
Over 50 golden years and thousands of golden South Sea pearls later, Jewelmer has indeed become a notable global luxury brand.
“The growth of our company can be attributed to many: the community, the environment, our patrons, and this industry that supports us,” Jacques Christophe says. “It is through the South Sea pearl that we aspire to give back.”
And giveback Jewelmer has. Over the past five decades, the company has had the drive to support local communities and the environment, recognizing and dealing with some of today’s most relevant issues.
In 2006, my father and Manuel Cojuangco established the Save Palawan Seas Foundation (SPSF),” he continues. “This non-profit organization helps to preserve Palawan by implementing long-term conservation strategies for the marine environment, as well as providing alternative sources of livelihood to coastal communities. Jewelmer and SPSF have consistently worked hand-in-hand to build a more sustainable environment for the pearl and for the community that nurtures it."
Aside from this, Jacques Christophe and his father have also been helping other institutions and causes. “We are very proud and honored that Jewelmer continues to have meaningful collaborations with esteemed organizations,” says the French-Filipino entrepreneur and philanthropist. Among these organizations is the Red Charity Gala, which recently had its 10th anniversary run. And, as Jacques Christophe mentions, Jewelmer was again one of the major sponsors, donating items that were put up for auction.
“Being part of the annual Red Charity Gala has allowed us to support the charities of the Philippine Red Cross and the Assumption High School Batch 1981 Foundation. Also, our collaboration with the MovEd Foundation has enabled us to help give children the invaluable gift of education. Our partnership with the ICANSERVE Foundation, on the other hand, has benefitted women who are fighting breast cancer and has helped raise more awareness of the cause,” he adds.
This sense of urgency to give back reflects Jacques Christophe’s definition of luxury. He says, “Luxury is something we pass on. An individual only becomes a steward of a heritage. This is why we pass on jewelry and why we look after the environment. Luxury heritage you build for future generations. Our luxury is that we have been given an accumulation of many people’s dreams and efforts. In this sense, luxury means the highest quality, which is the result of people working together.”