Modern Heritage

Fine jewelry brand Ma. Angelica takes traditional Filipino jewelry into the future


Traditional Filipino jewelry is deeply tied to religious rituals and culture. Ramon Villegas, a curator, historian, and jeweler who is also the author of the book “Kayamanan: The Philippine Jewelry Tradition”, writes that when the Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards and the Catholic religion was introduced, devotional jewelry like long rosary necklaces replaced the amulets and beads that pre-colonial Filipinos used to wear.

The hammered patterns of Ma. Angelica’s Versatility Heirloops are reminiscent of the finely detailed payneta (haircomb) designs. These come with interchangeable danglers for different looks—the right one is the Aurelia Argent Captiva Duo, with a two-toned, white-and-yellow-gold oval bar.

Devotional jewelry was favored for centuries, and the most popular piece was the Tamborine necklace—a long necklace made out filigreed, rosary-like beads, with an oval pendant with a religious symbol or a relic behind its glass. Popular also were the payneta or peineta, a large decorative hair comb with a hammered metal accent and tortoiseshell teeth, sometimes worn underneath a mantilla or sheer lace veil, and the delicate gold criolla hoops that Filipina women wore with their hair tied back into a tight bun.

Tamborine beads, those filigreed beads that make up the length of a traditional Tamborine necklace, are given a contemporary update by adding them onto these Daily Elegance hoops from Ma. Angelica’s Herminia Daily Collection.

These Filipino jewelry pieces were considered heirlooms and passed down from generation to generation, with the Tamborine necklace’s precious beads sometimes divided amongst the children when the matriarch had passed on. Fine jewelry brand Ma. Angelica, who also creates the antique-style treasures like the Tamborine necklaces, found a way to bring traditional Filipino jewelry into the future with their modern heirloom series of pieces.

These Daily Charm filigree studs are polished enough for daily wear, but have detail and sparkle that make it perfect for special occasions, too.

Ma. Angelica “deconstructs” the basic elements of trad Filipino pieces, like the Tamborine necklace, for example, and makes contemporary jewelry with it. Their Butterfly Tamborine Earrings, for example, use the oval pendants of the necklace for these dramatic drop earrings. The finely filigreed beads of the Tamborine are strung onto hoops to create the contemporary but sophisticated Daily Elegance hoops.

Botanical beauties. Ma. Angelica’s 24karat gold earrings, shaped like leaves, are finely detailed, right down to the tiny veins!

On another level is the fine detailing of the payneta or hair comb, which in Ma. Angelica’s treatment, is translated into the oval or straight bar drops in their interchangeable Versatility Heirloops. The flexibility of such a collection is a very modern innovation, indeed, as the wearer can transition from day to night with a change of ornamental drop. The Heirloops, like the rest of Ma. Angelica’s collections, are a tribute to the ultra-modern Filipina woman who wants to conquer the world, yet stay true to her cultural traditions.

Photos courtesy of the brand. Historical references are from the article “Remembering Ramon Villegas” by Mireille Jison.



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