Jewelry designer shines light on gemstone of a Beijing home
Gemologist and jewelry designer Paloma Sanchez delves into the worlds’ far-flung mines and quarries to find unique stones for designs yet whenever she returns from the trips, she embraces the warmth, comfort and joy of her Beijing home.
The 136-square-meter apartment is the third Beijing abode she has lived in since she moved to the city in 2006.
The Madrid native moved to her currant apartment only half a year ago, when the owner of her former home, where she had been living for almost 12 years, returned to Beijing from New York and needed it back.
“My son was also leaving to go to university abroad and I decided I didn’t need a big place, but instead, a smaller, cozier one for myself,” she said.
When she first saw the city-center high-rise apartment, what captivated her most was the big balcony and the spectacular city view.
“The most iconic Beijing was right there, under my eyes. Then the light, bright colors of the walls and the light coming from the east oriented windows, which guarantees the gorgeous sunrise every day,” Sanchez said.
The only thing she found unsatisfactory was that, while there was enough room for her, there wasn’t room for all of the things she had collected from her time in China. So she needed to let many of her clothes, gadgets and furniture go. However, having good sunlight was crucial for the jewelry designer.
“I cannot live without the sunlight. And I also need it to design and to look at my gemstones. Eastern and northern light (best light to appreciate the true color of gems) is essential,” she said.
Natural sunlight gently washes the interiors, while the rest of her home expresses who Sanchez is. Bright, clean colors are what make her feel comfortable, therefore she refurbished two sofas with a very light beige, almost off-white fabric, and hung up bright red and orange paintings on walls to create a lively contrast.
Her living room is brimmed with collected items and artworks from different countries and periods.
“The kind of atmosphere, the kind of decoration, that would make you just sit and appreciate the entourage without any other need and say: ‘I love my home’,” Sanchez said.
The gemologist often travels to Africa. “Those three continent (Europe, Asia and Africa) have left a deep feeling inside me. I understand, highly appreciate and love all three totally different traditions and I cannot help but acquiring items for my home from them. As I’m a gemologist and gem, mineral lover, all related to stones and minerals are a must in my home. Also, I believe in the combination of different materials to create a balanced atmosphere: Metal, mineral and wood are all present in my place,” she said.
Among the many collectibles Sanchez gathered from extensive trips, there are a few dear to her heart, showing her passion and emotion. For example, the chess game from Tanzania Sanchez treasures is hand crafted by an artist son of an old friend Asha, an 82-year-old woman miner, who has an amazing life story. Her son, equally unusual, lives alone in the jungle with a hippo pet. He also crafted a pair of ebony Maasai sculptures, which can be found in her “African corner.”
“My favorite object is a lamp that my son offered to me for my birthday many years ago,” she said.
“We were in Tanzania when he was 12 years old and saw a beautiful handmade bambu gondola with an iron man carrying a big ball made of white nacre inside, which was the light. My son ran into the shop and asked the vendor to wrap it. Then he came to me and said, “This is for you. Your birthday present. Please pay the vendor.”
Many of her belongings represent Sanchez and her stories from different corners of the world.
“I source furniture from very different places. I like to have only furniture and decorations in my home that really represent me, my life,” she said.
She also has many close friends in the art scene. “I have very special pieces from friends who are sculptors, iron men artists, as well as mineral collectors. One of my lamps is a landscape natural calcite. Some of my plant/flower pots are also made of pure rocks.”
Ask The Owner
Q: What´s the best thing about living in Beijing?
A: The best thing about living in Beijing is the beauty of this city, full of history.
Q: Describe your home in three words.
A: Cozy, personal and bright
Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get home?
A: I cannot wait to get back home, after a long and busy day, to relax and enjoy a glass of wine and some cheese. I can cancel any other appointment just to enjoy this moment. Really my moment.
Q: Where do you spend most of your time at home?
A: Most of my time at home I spend it sitting at my design table. When I am not designing, I like to rest in the living room and, specially, in my African corner.
Q: What’s the view outside your window?
A: I think I have one of the best views in Beijing. From my balcony I can see the iconic Sanlitun and Workers Stadium, the CBD in the south, all the way to Gongtibeilu East to the third ring road and, finally, the beautiful mountains that surround Beijing.