Platinum jewelry is now a customizable option in the Philippines, thanks to this month’s MEGA Man cover star Sep Vergara and his mission to put the metal to the fore.
Sep Vergara’s line of platinum jewelry is now growing a fan base by those who are seeking something different and more durable. This list of clientele include celebrity couples Rocco Nacino and Melissa Gohing as well as Jennylyn Mercado and Dennis Trillo, who recently exchanged vows with his platinum bands. Newlyweds Derek Ramsey and Ellen Adarna also had Sep Vergara Fine Jewelry customize their 18k rose gold rings.
IN HIS ELEMENT
Sep graduated from an Industrial Engineering course, he reveals. “When I started applying for jobs, though, people would look at my resume and point me towards the banking industry, because my family operates a rural bank in Pampanga. So I tried to be a banker for several months, but I realized that even though I shifted through different positions in the organization, I got bored very easily. I decided this industry was not for me.”
He then moved on to another facet of their family business, a pawnshop. There was a flailing branch that their family wanted to close down and he took it on, focusing first on the gadgets that people would pawn, instead of the jewelry. On the side, he maintained a food business. These did not turn out for him as he expected: his food business did not pick up, and the pawnshop he managed, while lucrative, was robbed.
Faced with a deadline from his father to return to the bank, he came up with a new idea that focused on the jewelry that was in their pawnshop’s vault. He strategized and planned his jewelry sales, and it gave him the idea to upsell by appraising the diamonds that they had. This led him to take a course in Gemology at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), financed by his own savings because he felt this would raise his credibilty as a jeweler. With his newfound knowledge and passion for diamonds, he decided to focus on crafting engagement and wedding rings and marketing his products at bridal fairs.
“Eventually, I started looking for my niche, and my purpose with the jewelry industry in the Philippines. Because it seemed like if I’ll follow the business types, I’ll sort of just be following these types and then improve. That was my format when I was starting out. But I said, if it’s all about money, okay I can copy this and that, I can lower prices, do well on marketing, but then I feel as if I don’t see what impact I bring to the industry,” he explains.
This was when he thought of going platinum. “There are customers who have previously bought platinum from other stores and asked if we can help resize them. But I couldn’t find anyone to help me in that aspect.”
Most of our jewelers focus on gold, so they don’t know how to work with platinum. They can even damage or contaminate it by using the same process and machines that they use with gold, he explains. “In the end, they discourage Filipinos from buying platinum jewelry,” Sep points out. However, he turns his attention to the Japanese, who, he shares, don’t use white gold due to it being naturally yellow. “They pay attention to detail,” he says. “They don’t like white gold because it turns yellow eventually. They use platinum instead because it’s naturally white.”
High-end jewelry brands like Harry Winston or Tiffany & Co. also carry a platinum line. They mark a more premium price for that because it’s much more difficult to make and not everyone can do it. So I told myself, I’m interested in that, even if it’s very challenging.” This ignited his entrepreneurial spirit, and he started to learn more about this elusive aspect of metallurgy.
Photography KIERAN PUNAY of STUDIO 100
Art direction JANN PASCUA
Styling RYUJI SHIOMITSU assisted by BEA GUERRERO & MIGUEL QUILANG.
Grooming CATS DEL ROSARIO assisted by MORIEL FLORES
Hair RICKY DIOKNO
Shoot coordination MJ ALMERO and MAE TALAID
Interview and transcription GRETCHEN GATAN
Shot on location at PALACIO DE MEMORIA, PARAÑAQUE
Special thanks to CHONA MODESTANO, CAMILLE LHUILLER, DANEL CALIXTO
To view his jewelry pieces and inquire about customization, visit www.sepvergara.com or their Instagram. You may also visit his brick-and-mortar stores at Ayala Malls the 30th in Pasig City and MarQuee Mall in Angeles City, Pampanga.