Spanish Jewellery: tradition and culture on your skin
© Silvia González Poncelas

New designers are always appearing but Spain's superb traditional jewellery –under constant innovation– is destined to live on forevern.

Spanish crafted jewels are identified with the spirit, ideas and tradition of our country. This time-honoured commitment to quality is conscientiously upheld by jewellers, lending added value to their coveted collections Made in Spain. While it's true that there's a jewel for every occasion, many people wear jewels that they almost never take off because they combine with practically everything and may be associated with important unforgettable events in one's life. Other people, however, like to choose their jewels to suit whatever they're doing or wherever they're goingo.

Since jewellery forms part of the art defining each period, traditional jewellery will always exist no matter how hard the new generations look for ways to update the established canons.

Cristina Yanes is the president of the Spanish Association of Jewellers, Silversmiths and Watchmakers (AEJPR), the foremost organization in the jewellery field in Spain. Yanes represents the over 3,000 member enterprises of the Association, all of which are linked to the jewellery industry, craft and specialist commerce.

B.S.How has the jewellery sector in Spain evolved and where does it find itself now?
C.Y.Years ago family businesses were almost automatically handed down from one generation to the next. But now jewellery requires more than just tradition. It's not enough to inherit the family business – you have to love it, feel it and feel yourself identified with it because you're competing with big highly professionalized companies and more than experience and tradition is involved. You need training and preparation to stay in the market and not be left behind. 

B.S. And how do you think we should adapt to the new times?
C.Y. In Spain we make jewels that are identified with our spirit, ideas and tradition. It would be good to make our young people aware of the existence of jewels as valuable objects that express the feelings of the person who makes a gift of them – jewels are more than just personal accessories. They are pieces of art worthy of being passed down from generation to generation and not something to be discardedr.

B.S. What are the biggest problems that the sector is facing?
C.Y. One of the most serious is that the jewellery consumer's outlook is changing. For years we've been selling the idea of the day-to-day jewel, of the wearable, accessible, easy and comfortable piece… But we've put so much emphasis on it that today any fashion accessory whatsoever is commonly called a jewel – even “fashion jewellery” pieces that meet absolutely none of the requirements of fine jewellery are called “jewels”.a.

B.S. Aside from the obvious advantages for tourists who are non-EU residents and can benefit from the VAT exemption, what makes investment in Spanish jewellery attractive?
C.Y. The fact that we Spanish jewellers create in almost all the styles and trends found in the world today. We continue to have big factories in Cordova that are faithful to their style without reducing their quality, while Catalan and Valencian jewellery presents bolder and more avant-garde designs. The Galician jewellers, for their part, continue to make heterogeneous jewellery and they know how to maintain more traditional styles, adapting them to the current trends. Likewise, in Madrid there are still traditional jewellery shops that create their own particular style, which is identified by consumers.

B.S.Is there a jewel for every moment or is one same piece suitable for all occasions?
C.Y. Jewels for all occasions exist: the consumer gives the orders and there are pieces that live with their owners because they never take them off. Naturally enough, however, we seek to create distinctive jewels for different moments and different people.

B.S. What type of pieces do people visiting Spain choose as gifts for their friends and family?
C.Y. Usually pieces of no specific size, like pendants that are in some way symbolic of Spain. At Yanes we do very well with our Malpica and Alhambra collections, which are partly inspired by our history.

B.S. It could be said that precious stones like diamonds and precious metals like gold and platinum continue to rule. Do you think the doors will be opening to new materials?
C.Y. Yes, diamonds, gold and platinum, and silver too, continue to be the stars of haute joaillerie. I believe and hope that no matter how many new materials may appear, it will be difficult for them to displace these wonderful precious stones and metals. But fashions and trends are unforeseeable and sometimes incomprehensible, so we can't lower our guard and let the new trends overshadow us.

B.S. What are the new designers contributing to jewellery?
C.Y. Many times the young designers contribute big ideas that we jewellers often don't dare to carry out because the costs are quite high when one works with precious metals. Accessible jewellery is much less risky and more open to experimentation with fashions and trends. Even so, jewellery forms part of the art defining each period. For example, traditional jewellery will always exist even if we new generations try to add a personal touch as a way of our pieces.

B.S. How does the Spanish jewellery industry deal with the competition of the big international brands?
C.Y. The big international brands need to set very high prices because they have large infrastructures and marketing costs. In Spain, on the other hand, we can offer the same quality at more competitive prices. The quality jewellery from China is just as expensive as European jewellery, while cheap Oriental pieces don't meet the minimum levels of quality demanded by the European market.

B.S. Jewellery and watches are the sector that has grown the most among shoppers from abroad. What's the reason for this?
C.Y. Jewellery and watches are highly appreciated and easy to carry. What's more, Spain is a country that arouses great interest from the tourism standpoint and its very good value for money means that visitors can invest in purchases in our sector.

Cristina Yanes
Cristina Yanes was named president of the Spanish Association of Jewellers, Silversmiths and Watchmakers (AEJPR) in July 2016. Her career as a professional jeweller began in 1979 in the Yanes firm. A graduate in Gemology at the Spanish Gemological Institute and a diamond expert, Ms. Yanes has devoted herself to the design, crafting and sale of jewellery on all levels. Since her appointment as the Association's president, she has endeavoured to win the Spanish jewellery industry the high prestige it deserves.

                                                                                                                                                                  - Joyería Yanes 

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