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Romancing the stones

By Zhang Lei (China Daily)

09:52, June 26, 2012

Paloma Sanchez with opal miners in Ethiopia. (China Daily)

At first glance from the outside, Paloma Sanchez's jewelry store might seem like just one of many shops in Beijing's Sanlitun area selling the usual souvenirs of the Chinese capital. But unknown to the first-time visitor, Sanchez's jewelry pieces are actually the result of her adventures to some of the farthest mines and quarries across the globe.

Inside her studio, cobblestone walls also help create a fresh Mediterranean zest that adds to the color of her jewelry displays including sapphire, quartz, obsidian, moonstone and crystal.

The Spaniard, exuding passion for her creations, presents her own definition of what is precious about them.

"I have a profound love and respect for precious stones. Their very name 'precious' relates to how they slowly grow only under specific heat and pressure parameters to become individuals unto themselves," she says.

"It is this unique path in which their atoms align to give them their own fantastic beauty, light and shape that I strive to capture in my jewelry."

Sanchez says that if each stone has already made a great journey to discover itself, she only wants to enhance it as a unique piece of art by using fine metals to accentuate and support it.

Unlike many jewelry designers who buy stones from wholesalers, Sanchez says she begins her journey at the source of her stones all over the world.

She never expects to find the same stone twice and she will never create the same piece.

"Each is as one of a kind as was its journey into a unique stone", she says.

"I like unusual gemstones, and I know where to find them and use them in my designs. Most of the people do not know many of the gemstones I use. Most people know diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald; but everybody is fascinated by the beauty of a gemstone they have never seen before," says Sanchez, who has been in Beijing for the past six years.

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