Jeweler Patrizia Rodriguez looks back at 10 years of creativity, and forward to 10, 20, 30 more

July 10, 2024 – Alike Editorial

Hailing from a family of jewelers, the managing director of Imelda’s Jewelry and founder of Krēa Jewelry returns to the core of her craft.

Patrizia Rodriguez spent her early years in Meycauayan, Bulacan, surrounded by tales of her grandparents’ artisanal jewelry practice in the glitzy postwar Philippines of the 1960s. Her earliest memory of diamonds was when she startled her mother, Imelda Rodriguez of Imelda’s Jewelry, while she was counting her diamond parcels which led to the melee falling all over the floor of her tiny home office. “The floors were derelict, dark brown with so many cracks and I am not sure how my mother was able to recover those diamonds (laughs). It was my earliest memory with diamonds and to this day I have a fear of having “stone down” moments so I count diamonds and stones only on huge tables,” she shares.

She eventually studied grade school to university in top Manila schools, did her stint in the corporate setting and did her post graduate study in Hong Kong which she considers her second home. But her education in jewelry — which appears to be the path of education that she has been destined to walk all along — precedes these when her mother Imelda and father Pancho introduced her and her brother Raymond to one of their business partners in Hong Kong when she was five years old. “My mother introduced us to (the business partner) -- such a perfect gentleman, a well-respected jeweler — and my brother and I looked at his most recent diamonds and colored stones acquisitions: coral, lapis, jade — and I was hooked on the craft.”

Her mother Imelda would go on her trips with the young Patrizia in tow, every year, almost without fail. Those trips were part exposure and leisure. When she turned 25 years old, she was blessed enough to have been sponsored by Imelda’s Jewelry and another Hong Kong based business partner to study in Gemological Institute of America - Hong Kong Campus, earning a Graduate Gemologist degree in 2012. She flew right back home, trained in the workshop under the tutelage of her uncles Roberto and Romeo, and earned her chops by working in the Philippine wedding industry for the first ten years of her career.

She’s since finished design courses in the New York Jewelry Design Institute with Jenine Lepera Izzi and Raffaella Trivi Stern and maintains a steady flow of materials and knowledge from both Hong Kong and New York for her and the artisans working for both Imelda’s Jewelry and Krēa Jewelry, her lab grown diamonds jewelry line.

During our interview, Rodriguez walks in the cafe donning eyewear and a rodeo-inspired hat. She later comments that she’s past the point of trying to look hyper polished, instead preferring to dress like a student, perhaps, she believes, she’s meant by the universe to connect with younger people. “I’m an eternal student,” she quips.

“I think I do have the consistency, depth of experience, technical / operational know how to grow and sustain a four-generation jewelry business,” she shares, referring to her work for Imelda’s Jewelry, “but the focus for Krēa Jewelry is a different kind of creativity — a real paradigm shift in my art and craft — and a new world of technological innovation in jewelry” now. “I have the creativity and commitment to further my exploration of jewelry through Imelda’s Jewelry and Krēa Jewelry.”

From here, our interview feels less like one as the conversation flows in tangents and cycles back to previous topics. She is a woman in the second stage of her career, working to achieve bigger goals hinged upon more profound and collective whys and fors. Working at Imelda’s Jewelry as its managing director while devoting an equal amount of energy to Krēa Jewelry as its founder, she is in a point where “the Why matters more than the What. I spent the last decade deepening my knowledge of What, it’s time to learn Why.” Rodriguez’s Why then manifested through Krēa Jewelry, with a notably different aesthetic from Imelda’s Jewelry.

Torchbearer with a new path

The stylized word Krēa is based on the Sanskrit word kriya, whose root words kri and ya respectively mean “action” and “awareness.” The style is notably different from Imelda’s Jewelry which Rodriguez describes as “aspirational and authoritative,” speaking of Krēa as “welcoming, young, warm.” “The idea of Krēa’ Jewelry’s branding and aesthetic came to me at a time when I was totally present.”

Ultimately, it’s Rodriguez’s “ode to the art and craft of jewelry.” Notably, Krēa Jewelry also uses lab grown diamonds. Lab grown diamonds recently disrupted the global jewelry market, shaking all elements in its value chain and influenced the birth of a new demographic as less millennials purchased natural diamond jewelry owing to changing macroeconomic factors in the wake of the pandemic. And so, Krēa Jewelry was born.

“I don’t want to focus too much on the concept of ownership and possession,” she pauses thoughtfully, sipping her coffee, before continuing, “but it really belongs to all who believe in me, my family and our artisans who stayed the course with us through tough times. It took a village — or villages if you will (Meycauayan, Manila, Hong Kong, New York) to get me where I am today. I learned to be more strategic, but at heart, I’m an artisan, married to the craft.”

An unbroken chain

“This craft grows on trust and credibility. That’s the biggest lesson my mom taught me.”

After all, jewelry is ultimately about sentiment and meaning. These are accessories marking someone’s sense of style evolving through years of personal growth, or an artefact whose meaning is attached to a significant other, parent, friend or beloved elder.

At this point our conversation, Rodriguez pauses to bring out clear folders containing sketches, as well as both Imelda’s Jewelry and Krēa Jewelry pieces. She becomes emotional, an affectionate tremble in her voice as she handles a diamond ring which belongs to her mother Imelda. “I often saw it growing up, and eventually would ask mom if I could borrow it,” she recalls with laughter.

“There’s nothing more poignant,” Rodriguez ponders, “than watching your parents age, and seeing them finally take the vacation they deserve, all as you continue what they started. I’m sure mom felt that way too when she was my age now, watching her parents take the backseat and letting her drive.”

And yet, despite lab grown diamonds being surrounded by disinformation, the young Rodriguez knows that truly discerning patrons know the bigger context behind diamonds and jewelry, and that the same beauty shines through new methods. "Sometimes, people will not understand your life choices,” the jeweler smiles as she finishes her coffee, “but you’re growing, and that’s what matters.”

Follow Imelda’s Jewelry on Instagram for elegant, unique and high-quality natural diamond jewelry and colored stones jewelry founded in Meycauayan, Bulacan:

Follow Krēa Jewelry on Instagram for exquisite lab grown diamond jewelry and celebrate beauty in human innovation:

Follow Patrizia Jewelry on Instagram for her jewelry render designs and bespoke jewelry pieces:

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