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Remembering Ramon Villegas

Mr. Ramon Villegas, an antique jeweler and historian was the person I could go to to give accurate information on old Filipino jewelry. He would not only date them but gave interesting tidbits as well. Several years ago, while making promotional materials for my online business, I asked if I could quote his book.  While this was originally written by my friend, Rachelle Medina, he obliged and even gave a suggested edited quote which I still use to this day: “When the Philippines became a Spanish colony, devotional jewelry came to replace native amulets and talismans. To the converted Filipinos, it was not only a way to express their new Christian faith but also to adorn themselves, even as they followed strict austerity measures imposed by the Spanish crown on all subjects. Filipinos wore cross and scapular pendants and rosaries. The latter were made of tamborin beads, referring to the filigree technique, which utilized fine wires and granules worked within a tambour or frame. In the beginning, the rosario necklaces had beads arranged in decades, interspersed with larger …

Healing From Mourning

Losing a loved one is never easy but losing someone during the holidays somehow magnifies the sadness.  The recent holidays were difficult as my father-in-law passed away.  My husband looked up to him and my children adored him. During the mass before the inurnment, the priest said that a person can die three times.  The first one is when he stops breathing, the second one is when he is laid to rest and the third time is when we forget the deceased. I lost my Dad when I was still in college.  It was heartbreaking to see my Mom hold on to my Dad’s old shirt just so she can remember how he smelled like.  Over the years, I have forgotten how his voice sounded like. I look around my home and realized that save for a few pictures, I don’t have anything my Dad owned.  Good thing my Mom recently gave me his abacus which he was oddly trying to learn at that time.  🙂 It is easy to forget because healing from mourning …

A Feature on Manila Bulletin Newspaper and The Happy Lab Blog!

Last Saturday night, I got a text message from a friend telling me that I was featured in Manila Bulletin newspaper’s Friday lifestyle section.  Note to self, buy newspaper.  It was an ALMOST full page article! Then this morning, another feature on The Happy Blog!  Happy news on a rainy day! Sharing the links below: and

Another reason not to buy poorly made reproduction jewelry

I saw this lanzadera or navette-shaped ring and thought it was lovely.  It was clearly not an antique- although it was masquerading as one and since it was cheap, I thought I’d buy it for myself.  Big mistake. A day after wearing it, a cubic zirconia stone fell out.  I had it fixed and kept on wearing it for a couple of weeks.  Yesterday, the replacement stone fell out again.  Oh boy, I got what I paid for.  ;p Just for comparison, check out the workmanship on the vintage silver lansadera ring on the right.

Tamborin Jewelry- A Little Bit of History

Did you know that jewelry was used to spread Christianity in the Philippines? During the Spanish colonization of the Philippines which began in 1521, jewelry such as crucifixes were used as tools to replace amulets and talismans worn then by the native Filipinos. To the converted Filipinos, wearing these jewelry was not only a declaration of their Christian faith but also a way to adorn themselves while still following the austerity restriction dictated by the Spanish regime. The goldsmiths saw an opportunity to hawk their wares by producing only religious jewels.  While gold was in abundance, gemstones were not, so they used various techniques to achieve different looks for their jewelry such as the filigree technique, “kalado” or lace-like effect and changing the color of gold.  Gemstones were scarce and only the upper class had access to them. Around the mid-eighteenth century, a lot of Filipinos began wearing crucifixes and scapulars along with the tamborin necklace.  The “tamborin” or sometimes spelled as “tamburin” is a very traditional Filipino jewelry. The tamborin necklace was patterned after …