10 QUESTIONS FOR ISAKO SUGAWARA PARAPAR
ISAKO, IN HER OWN WORDS...
I discovered the world of gemstones while studying archeology at University. During my scientific archeology course I flew through the minerals portion, quickly realizing that while I loved reading tomes on Etruscan art, I was far more passionate about mineral specimens.
After my degree, I left for New York to study Gemology at the GIA. When I wasn’t in class I spent my free time in the Hall of Gems at the Natural History Museum, at auctions reveling at the gorgeous pieces or marking the windows of all Manhattan's antique jewellery stores with my forehead and fingerprints.
A year later I came home to Switzerland. I started my career working for a stone dealer in Geneva, training my eye sorting kilos of stones of all kinds.
My favorite moments were when my boss came back from a trip, I would wait to see the stones he bought with the anticipation of a kid on Christmas morning!
5 years later I sign up for a specific mission with a collector of antique art and gemstones. In addition to his impressive collection of gems, I rediscover, in a much more tangible way, the world of archaeological arts I had studied at university.
The pre-Columbian period is by far my favorite.
After 3 years my mission was complete. I worked briefly at AdlerJoailliers before I was offered a job with one of the great maisons: Piaget.
And there I was, about to start the job of my dreams!
It’s been12 years since I started as a gemologist with Piaget. I am part of the team that selects stones for the high Jewellery collections. I work with diamond and precious stone dealers all over the world, and several times per year I travel to International exhibitions with my colleagues treasure hunting. Each and every stone is an adventure in and of itself from the moment we find it to the finished piece. It’s a love story but sometimes a complicated one!
Over time I have realised that what I love the most about my job is the human aspect and the relationships that have been forged, the emotions and passions that are shared through the gemstones kaleidoscope. I have met some wonderful people in this industry, people that have personally enriched me.
My job is one of the major elements in my life that make me the happy girl I am today.
1. WHO OR WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Emotions related to the feeling of Freedom.
2. WHAT IS YOUR IDEA OF LUXURY?
Finding the time to feel Free.
3. WHICH JEWELER OR WATCHMAKER DO YOU MOST ADMIRE, WHY?
Her jewellery pieces are a magnificent fusion of materials, cultures and eras.
4. IN YOUR NEXT LIFE YOU ARE A JEWEL OR OBJECT, WHAT ARE YOU, WHY?
Definitely a brooch!
Brooches are magical; they have the power to teleport and transform. I love wearing them in different and strategically chosen places of my outfits, even on my shoes and in my hair.
5. SET A DINNER TABLE FOR 6:
ALIVE OR DEAD - WHO ARE THE 5 MOST INTERESTING/FUNNY/TALENTED
INDUSTRY PEOPLE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR TABLE WITH?
Jeanne Poiret Boivin
James de Givenchy
Funny, 5 women for only one man, James would be pleased!
6. YOUR DREAM JOB IT WEREN'T THIS ONE
The one that allows me to go home every evening with a smile.
7. YOUR GREATEST JEWELLERY/WATCH MEMORY/EXPERIENCE TO DATE?
I’m 10 years old and am fascinated by 2 photos of my Japanese grandmother when she was young.
In one of the photos she is posing wearing a kimono and a traditional Japanese hairstyle. It’s the beginning of the 1940’s, she is of age to be married. These photos were used to show potential husbands.
The other photo was taken 10 years later. Her hair is short – “like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday” she told me one day – She was wearing a simple white shirt and black pants.
In both photos, I notice the same Art Deco brooch.
In a very conventional 1940’s Japan, I can already see that this brooch - pinned discreetly on the obi (belt) of her traditional kimono – is the expression of a resolutely modern and well asserted woman; someone my grandmother has been throughout her life .
That day, I discovered that we can express desires and convictions through the jewels we wear.
8. YOUR FAVORITE GEMSTONE?
A trick question for a gemologist !
If I really had to choose just one, I would say sapphire.
A beautiful cornflower blue that pulls you into its abyssal depths is really hypnotizing.
9. YOUR MOTTO FOR PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS?
Work to attract luck, it's something you cultivate.
10. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE STARTING OUT IN THE INDUSTRY?