I remember walking into the Jul B. Dizon Jewellery Salon at Shangri-La Edsa Hotel over 14 years ago, back when I was a very new bride. I was with friends and, although I had no plans of buying anything then, I did fall in love at first sight with a cuff that delicately bloomed with carved mother-of-pearl flowers sprinkled with diamonds, blue and yellow sapphires. It could be converted into a very wide choker, by spreading it open and simply attaching strings of pearls at each corner to meet all the way at the back, although I have yet to wear it that way. I went home thinking about it, and woke up the next day still wanting it. I knew myself enough to realize this was no passing whimsy and from the time I finally got it to date, it has remained a favorite.
That is fact number one about Jul B. Dizon jewellery. It calls you, seduces you, draws you in. You go home happy about the purchase, feeling a little guilty maybe, but gleefully so and that feeling is so fleeting because you end up using the piece over and over again anyway. Because the creators behind the brand (it is a family enterprise, by the way) never run out of beautiful ideas that transform all these lovely gemstones into works of art; it is hard to just stop at one. There is always something new to love at Jul B. Dizon Jewellery Salon. There have been instances, especially abroad, when women have walked up to me to either ask where I got the earrings I was wearing, with some actually offering to buy them off me.
Apparently, and as I would find out more and more over the years, that is nothing out of the ordinary. I’m sure the other fans of JBD jewelry can relate. And there are many out there.
In other parts of the world, fine jewelry that is custom-made is a luxury only very few can afford. Luckily for us here in Manila, that is not the case. Here is world-class quality within reach and though what you pay for each may be far more than what you would shell out for bejeweled designer shoes or a beautiful gown, you get great value for money. I think that the saying “you get what you pay for” is never truer than it is with jewelry. Besides, I’ve always believed that the actual cost of an item is the price, divided by the number of times you actually get to wear it. Think about that. Something you pay a lot for that you actually take pleasure owning and using, the latter many times over at that, is far better than having a less expensive something just gathering dust in some corner.
A lady once told me that we can learn a lot from how the French shop. I think it is wise, especially when it comes to jewelry. The French do not hoard as if there is no tomorrow; every season they buy a piece or two, the best their money can afford, and they build up a wardrobe over the years of pieces that they absolutely love and can and will use over and over again till kingdom come. They may cost more, but they are keepers through and through.
A Jul B. Dizon Jewellery piece is a lot like that. It is never about fast fashion. Because they are lovingly hand-made, these are one-of-a-kind pieces that you fall in love with, and take home to make your own. Each is so exquisitely crafted that even the parts that only you can see are neat and detailed. These pieces grow old with you. They move with you, they become part of your story. You wear them many times, at many moments of your life, and they may reflect a shape of your memories.
In life, we go to different people to fix our problems. We go to a lawyer because a legal kink has to be ironed out, we go to a doctor because something does not feel quite right within our body, we go to the dermatologist because our skin could be better. But our relationship with a jeweler is different. When you walk through the doors of a jewelry store, chances are it is because something good has happened to you. Buying jewelry is an act of triumph. Women buy jewelry to celebrate life, to charm a happy moment even more. Having said that, I know of people whose heartbreak was reason enough to buy jewelry. Well, why ever not? It is just as brave but less drastic than chopping off hair or burning photos and letters.
One day in July each year, a celebration of sorts happen. The event is the Jul B. Dizon anniversary and it is an afternoon filled with beautiful people and beautiful things. For a few hours, the group (predominantly women) indulge in a delightful time that is very much like the ones spent as little girls playing dress-up. We shift from showcase to showcase of pieces so beautifully made they elicit sighs and gasps. Two or three women may end up falling for one and the same thing, some may go home happily with a purchase that sparkles as brightly as her happiest dream but later in the evening, still pine over the one she left behind or the one that got away, but hey, that is part of the fun; this push-and-pull of wanting but not succumbing just yet, the danger that it may no longer be available just when you decide you want it, the exhilaration when you actually just go for it, the quiet knowing that you’ve filled yourself with some brand of loving. You need not explain that feeling to anyone.
For my part, I love the people behind Jul B. Dizon for the way they continue to innovate and create. I work with Candy Dizon a lot, who never disappoints. Sometimes I wonder how their ideas seem so bottomless, but then again there is a whole family of them all into the business. Each client has a go-to Dizon, I guess. There is also Janina for Jul B. Dizon, whose designs have a cult following. Through the years Candy has made me appreciate stones and colors I thought I would never grow into, simply because she presents it in unexpected but delightful ways. Her designs have taught me to see things with new eyes. Each JBD piece features workmanship that is always stellar, gorgeous lesser-known but just-as-precious stones with names that roll so beautifully from the lips are constantly being introduced, and consequently, desire becomes so much more than just the requisite diamonds and pearls, although they do have that, too, of course. Their appeal is a playfulness that is enchanting and beautiful all at once. Like perfume and lipstick, jewelry is also always a lot about how it makes you feel. And so, like I always say, don’t just love them from a distance; when it calls you try it on. Check how it moves with you, see for yourself how it feels against your skin; really look at what it does to your smile. It is magical that way — when you wear it, it really comes alive.
Their collection this year features an intricate, Oriental aesthetic — something that calls for old-world glamorous fabric and maybe red lipstick. Stones are carved by hand, set with stones, and no two pieces are ever alike. A lot may have been already sold but who knows, there may still be a few waiting to be owned by someone. At any rate, do find your way there when you can. It is a feast, a celebration of Filipino talent at its best.
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Jul B. Dizon Jewellery Salon is available at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel and The Amnila Peninsula, Janina for Jul B. Dizon is available at the Peninsula.
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