Cristina Yanes: At the Helm of the Family Jewelry Empire

Irene Sanchez

Yanes Jewelry is considered one of Spain’s most emblematic firms. The Spanish Royal House has worn their jewels since the wedding of Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia.

Cristina Yanes abandoned her studies in Chemistry and choose Gemology and jewelry design, specializing in diamonds, a curriculum that would her become Commercial and Design Director at Yanes jewelry. Who would have thought that the teenage girl who prepared all her life to study Pharmacy would become an essential part of the jewelry store she inherited, along with her brothers, from their great-grandfather? At the tender age of 17, Cristina joined her relatives in the Madrid store, located at 27 Goya Street, which is still today the headquarters of the emblematic firm. Soon she realized she felt completely identified with the work she was doing.

As our conversation progressed, she defined her passions and her business philosophy. Cristina and Yanes are intimately connected: not only because the brand carries her family name, but also because she is a clear reflection of the philosophy of this prestigious Spanish firm.

Cristina Yanes: At the Helm of the Family Jewelry Empire
Cristina Yanes.

Nonetheless, her marriage to the prominent businessman José Luis Santos, President of the Spanish hotel chain Santos, with whom she has been married for 25 years and has three children, is the most important triumph of her life.

She speaks proudly of her more than two decades of successful and fruitful marriage, the education they have provided for their children and the friends she has kept throughout the years. We must mention that her group of friends includes the elite of Spanish society circles: Mamen Sánchez, owner Hola magazine; model Mamen Sanz (wife of the former Real Madrid soccer player Raúl González Blanco), actress Lydia Bosch, designer Carolina Herrera and bullfighter El Litri, Begoña García Vaquero (wife of businessman Pedro Trapote), Marian Camino (daughter of bullfighter Paco Camino), Margarita Vargas and her husband Alfonso de Borbón (heir to the throne of France) and her close friend Paloma Cuevas, wife of the bullfighter Enrique Ponce, who is also the image of the jewelry firm. All of them have worn her jewels.

Although Cristina is discrete when talking about her clients, it is vox populi that many of them belong to European Royal Houses. Queen Letizia, for example, wore a wonderful pair of blue topaz earrings from the Wedding Jewels Collection on several occasions when she was still a princess. and the wife of Konstantin of Bulgaria, María García de la Rasilla y Gortazar, has also succumbed to the charm of her jewels.

The Yanes Jewels

All Yanes creations follow the philosophical principles contained in a phrase often repeated by Cristina’s father, the master jeweler Jesús Yanes, “When we sign one of our creations, we are committed to making sure it is everlasting”. Part of the legacy the family has received since 1881 has been a focus on quality and tradition, ensuring that the passage of time will not affect the design. “Our goal is that even after many years the buyer will not feel that the jewel is outdated. We don’t pay too much attention to fashion and trends, because they are passing fads. We simply adapt to them”. Haute jewelry at Yanes is handmade with a distinctive touch: “If the solitaire has always been made with four claws, we add our signature and a detail that identifies it”.

Cristina Yanes: At the Helm of the Family Jewelry Empire
Cristina Yanes in the Madrid Jewelry Workshop Yanes.

To unleash the creativity of their designs, and to get closer to a clientele with a smaller budget, Yanes has launched a second line: Yanes Young, collections that are conservative and innovative at the same time, neither too modern nor too classic, with seldom-used elements and new, almost unknown stones that are still very noble materials. “This line was born as an alternative to the usual client, although they are gems that don’t go out of fashion”.

For Cristina Yanes, the inspiration for the design of her collections comes from the international fairs she attends regularly. She is a regular at the most important annual jewelry event, the “Hong Kong Jewelry and Gems Fair” (Yanes has a factory in that city, where some of their luxury products are made). “That is our starting point for the selection of raw materials. I find inspiration in these gems, in their colors, in the client´s needs and the market.”

Cristina also recalls watching Richard Gere give Julia Roberts a spectacular ruby necklace in Pretty Woman and realizing the strong presence of jewels in cinema. She then imagined what she would create if she had to style the most iconic films from the history of Hollywood, and the Jewels of Cinema Yanes Young Collection was born.

The idea behind the Seven Wonders Collection arose from her admiration of historic buildings such as the Taj Mahal. “I found inspiration in the character of a prince, an emperor, a husband who builds a palace for love. I immediately thought of red agate and started designing jewels that recreated that world.” Seven Wonders pays homage to our collective creative genius embodied in affordable pieces.

Yanes Jewelry has stores in Valencia, Madrid and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) and continues to add points of sale throughout Spain at the luxury department store El Corte Inglés and other jewelry boutiques across the country.

Cristina´s Real Treasure

Yanes confesses that her favorite stone is the diamond. “All women like it, and it is our best seller in addition to pearls for weddings.” Her personal jewelry collection is imbued with emotional significance. “I associate them with the most important moments in my life: my wedding, births, special celebrations, events and the gifts I’ve received from my husband and my parents over the years”. She wore a family heirloom on her wedding day: an impressive tiara made with 1500 flower-shaped diamonds, which can be turned into nine brooches and the possibility of wearing it also as earrings and even as a pendant.

Surely this successful jewelry designer has many reasons to celebrate. Regardless of whether her children will continue or not with the next generation of the family business, she has achieved her goal: since their birth, she’s given them the mother image they wanted and needed. In addition to the 175 gems she saved in boxes for more than 8 years, this is the real treasure of Cristina Yanes. ■

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