In Ibiza’s rich cultural history and traditions, the vibrant jewellery worn during traditional dancing, Ball Pagés, has far greater significance than simple cosmetic adornment.
The jewellery is worn by both men and women, though the men adopt considerably greater reserve in their bling register,
For the women, the jewellery in some respects defined them. It defined their stage in maturity, their social and economic position, It was accrued not through any materialistic ability to buy we may recognise now. Nobody went down to the local filigree shop on a Friday night to get an extra couple of 24 inch rope chains after a good week on the salt flats.
The Jewellery was earned in so far as it was given when certain events or criteria were fulfilled.
The lifelong association with the Jewellery began at a girl’s first communion when she would receive a chain or crucifix.
Though it may have been a social causation that gave her entitlement to the jewellery, from what I have seen on the subject, it was perfectly acceptable and correct to then display your financial position by the use of the finest quality of craftsmanship and value of gold and gems. That makes perfect sense. It may have happened over centuries, but there is no way you end up with this style of jewellery without some serious one-upmanship in the mix. But even if it is not to your personal taste, before expressing any critical opinion I remind you of our own traditional folk dancing heritage. In comparison to Morris men, everything has to be higher up the food-chain.
Here we cover the history of the jewellery, its use in folk dance, and one of its greatest exponents, Elisa Pomar.
It was a chance encounter walking past a jewellery shop in Ibiza Old town that originally sparked my interest. The window display was stunning. In style it was unmistakably connected to the Ibizan Jewellery I had seen often in ball pages folk dancing, but also bang up to the minute, contemporary designs, that would give an awful lot of husbands the joy of an easy Christmas gift this year, a sure fire hit that wouldn’t be stuffed away at the back of a drawer.
I didn’t know at that point that the Jewellers was that of Elisa, it was the story of the history that took me back there to her shop.
Emprendada jewellery has been worn by the women of Ibiza for many centuries, however it is still a common sight today as it forms an important part of the dress worn in traditional Ibizan dancing, Ball Pages.
See our article elsewhere for more on the dancing, and see our agenda pages for performances
The history of individual emprendada can often be traced back many generations. There are two types of emprendada worn according to the costume and celebration of the day.
Silver & Red Coral
The oldest emprendada were made from silver and red coral, normally with several coral necklaces and decorated with silver pins and a filigree crucifix. The crucifix itself was heavily decorated with coral pearls and precious stones and it often accompanied a Joia, a richly decorated medallion with an image of the Virgin Mary.
The newer Emprendada is very similar to the earlier examples in its symbolism but is almost always gold and uses incredibly fine filigree techniques.
In addition to the necklaces, rings are worn on all fingers except the thumb. Some of the rings may be seals bearing the family coat of arms. The earrings and dress buttons are also part of the jewellery adornment.
In comparison, the male jewellery is very modest and usually consists of filigree bells on the waistcoat designed to sound when dancing.
According to tradition the jewels were the dowry of brides, however the first chain or crucifix would be received on the day of their first communion.
The young women would show off their adornments during religious processions or dances and at Sunday mass.
It was a tradition for the groom to present the bride with 24 rings on the day of the wedding.
It seems you cannot go far in the world of Emprendada and traditional Ibizan jewellery without coming across Elisa Pomar.
Few could outdo her on the original Ibicenco material front. Fewer still on artistic talent. She sounds like fun too.
The Pomar family have worked in Ibizan jewellery since 1850. Back then, Elisa’s great-great-grandfather was known on the island as “El Jewelero del Rey”, the jeweller to the King, a nickname he was given for providing tokens to the lovers of Alfonso XIII.
The family trade was with her from a very young age. As a child she was eager to finish classes at her school of Our Lady of Consolation to be able to go to their little family jewellery store Marina, and be able to do homework there, while watching how her father and grandfather worked the pieces. “I remember my grandfather with his tongue out to concentrate while working the jewels and a strong smell of acids, it was amazing how bad he smelled!”, she recollected in one of her frequently requested descriptions of an Ibiza long gone.
Elisa said that despite the proximity of precious metals times were still very hard.
Times changes for the better for Elisa’s family with the arrival of tourism. The family extended their operation in the marina, and Elisa joined her father and grandfather.
It was when her grandfather died that she decided she wanted to take a new direction, to combine her love and respect for their jewellery heritage, but also to apply new techniques and styles.
‘Traditional Contemporary’ sounds like the awful last attempt the catering trade will make when they have run out of absolutely every other food combination possible.
However in Elisa’s case it is a perfect fit. Her work retains an unmistakable link with the traditional styles and techniques of her illustrious Ibizan Jeweller heritage. But at the same time, there is no question that she is treading water replicating the work of those who went before. Her designs are contemporary and wearable.
Unsurprisingly they have become very popular as wedding gifts and this is one of the specialist sections on her website. Nothing is ‘cheap’ as in an ‘under 50€’ range, but when you see the level of detail and quality of the work it all seems very good value indeed.
One word of warning. When I first used the site under the English option, it all appeared to be broken. As if there were no actual products in the shop. I then changed it to Spanish and it all worked fine.
Elisa Pomar, Castelar, 1, Ibiza Old Town, 10:00 – 13:30, 17:00 – 20:30, http://www.elisapomar.es