Artisan Organization: Pablo Roquel
Country: Central America
"I find the history associated with jade to be inspiring. This beautiful stone has been treasured and worked since the times of the ancient Maya. Jade can only be found in a few countries around the world, so I feel fortunate to have the privilege to have it nearby to create something so valuable.
"I'm Pablo, from San Cristobal Totonicapan and I'm the youngest of five children. Both my parents were farmers and vendors, but dad also enjoyed carving and mom wove traditional attire on the backstrap loom. My interest in jade jewelry was sparked at a company where I worked in charge of purchases. However, it wasn't until years later that a friend offered me the opportunity to work as a jade artisan. He taught me everything I needed to know, but my willingness to learn was such that I was very attentive to what others were doing and so I was always learning and refining my skills.
"The first piece I ever made was the replica of a Maya mask from Tikal. It was a lot of hard work but, in the end, my bosses were pleased with it and soon sold it at their store. I continued working hard to save enough to set up my own workshop, and I finally could in 2000.
"Getting started is a difficult endeavor as you need to make yourself known and have your own clients. But with perseverance and hard work, I've managed to keep earning in a more or less stable manner.
"I prefer to choose the piece of jade directly from the miners who just extracted it from the mine. Then I cut it into plaques and from there I make my design, cutting and polishing the gem to a high luster before converting it into a piece of jewelry.
"I dream of the day my sales increase so I can expand my workshop by offering a job to more people in my community. I thank you for the opportunity of showcasing my work and for opening the window of opportunity so that people in other countries can see my jewelry.""