I look at the image above and then look at my surroundings, and all I feel is a sense of fulfillment and belonging. This photograph of my great-grandfather, Isaac Barquet, is one I have on my desk and proudly reference each time clients ask about the origins of our family business. I draw inspiration from the photograph for the work I do every day and the family legacy I carry as the 4th generation owner of Barquet Joyero.
Bringing the Roots from Cuba to Puerto Rico
While our roots are in Cuba, my grandfather, Natalio Barquet Chediak, made Puerto Rico his home and revived the Barquet business in 1965 by opening his jewelry store in Calle de la Fortaleza #201, Viejo San Juan where we have been ever since.
Meet the Owner Today – A Fourth Generation Barquet
I started working alongside my father, Natalio Barquet Perez, in 2018 and it has been a whirlwind of experiences. I had recently returned from Boston, where I lived for 7 years after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in the History of Art and Architecture from Boston University (BU) and working for a startup and non-profit post-graduation. Notably, my years studying at BU, interning in museums, and even participating in the 2015 Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Undergraduate Symposium set the foundation for my love of art, beauty, aesthetic, and innovation. While those years were fundamental to my intellectual and professional growth, during the last year in the northeastern city I felt a longing for my warm island. As soon as I touched my homeland, I knew my heart was set on the family business and the incredible jewelry line my father designed: Coquí el Original®.
Giving Credit to the Third Generation Owner
Before speaking about the 3 years I have been in the family business, I must give credence to my father and his siblings, Martha, Eduardo, and Arturo. As the oldest of the boys, my dad was thrusted into the family store from the young age of 12 to work during the summers. He was, as my grandfather, truly bred for the business of fine jewelry. From design, metallurgy, gemology, appraisals, to the business aspects of supplier and customer relations, my dad is nothing short of one of Puerto Rico’s most accomplished jewelry business persons.
Roots of the Family Business
For years, they dedicated their business to the selling of very high-end designer jewelry such as Piaget, Chopard, Corum, Mikimoto, Piero Milano, Garavelli, Nanis, among other internationally known brands. But as time passed, my father noticed a growing interest in locally-designed jewelry. In 2009, he reinvented the business model and created the Coquí el Original® jewelry line and brand.
The Love of the Jewelry Business Started Young
As a girl, I remembered I absolutely adored the mornings and weekends I was able to go into the store. The glamour of the employees and clients all dressed up. The casual banter of negotiating high-ticket items. Seeing everyone in movement from sales, to accounting, to the workshop. The best was seeing my father in-action. I wanted to be just like him. Graceful, tactfully funny, but with a business edge. My favorite part, however, was cleaning all the glass tables for a whopping $1.00 reward. Nothing better than a monetary incentive to later buy candy at school! During the 90s and early 2000s, it was customary to have carts with shelves containing trays where jewelry items were placed for storage.
These carts always had wheels in order to easily move between counters and take items out for display. As I grew older, I had a blast moving jewelry carts and organizing how jewels were to be displayed for the day. Time passed and I left for Boston, deep down knowing the store was where I belonged.
It’s now been 3 years and I see myself here for the rest of my life with the desire to potentially pass down this family tradition as my father has done with me. I know what my dad has created with Coquí el Original® is unique and has great potential for more people getting to know and love his designs. I can proudly say I am now the official 4th generation owner of N. Barquet Inc. and the Coquí el Original® brand.
Things I Treasure About Owning a Small Business in Puerto Rico
Beyond the implications of being one of the few female-owned businesses in Old San Juan, the enjoyment of being a small business owner is something that I treasure. There is an intimacy of being in a boutique store, connecting with old and new clients from all over the world. I’ve created unforgettable connections with supporters and friends. Ghana, South Africa, Germany, the US, Colombia, Spain, Mexico, China, Thailand, are just some of the numerous and diverse clientele Coquí el Original® receives yearly. I love building personal and business rapport. Our strong-suit is retaining customers that enjoy our designs’ exclusivity and authentic customer service.
Coquí el Original Now and Where We Are Going
It is redundant to mention how 2020 was a year that challenged us and the entire world. I am grateful we have been able to keep selling this gorgeous jewelry line with its unique collections for people wanting luxury mementos from Puerto Rico. It is now July 2021 and this year my father and I have been focusing on the design process.
New Collection Coming Soon
I am happy to announce that for this upcoming holiday season, we are launching a new collection! Coquí el Original® will have brand new earrings, rings, and bracelets in both solid sterling silver .925 and solid 14k gold. The best part, I am extremely excited and proud to say I contributed to these designs. I am confident you will love the surprises we have in store.
Final Notes from the Owner
While I have made leaps and bounds in terms of learning about jewelry and how to run a business, I know every year there will be more exciting challenges and areas for growth. My father has become my best partner and mentor. Everything I accomplish is thanks to his unconditional support. The same my grandfather provided him with. The same my great-grandfather gave to my “abuelo.” I am thrilled to see what the future has in-store for us.
Daniela Barquet, 4th Generation Owner
Daniela Barquet is the 4th generation owner of her family's jewelry store located in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico since 1965. The business tradition was started by her great-grandfather, Issac Barquet, in 1920. Daniela graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's in the History of Art and Architecture and a Minor in Italian Studies. Daniela continues to grow under the mentorship of her father, Natalio Barquet Perez, who is a renowned, certified jeweler in Puerto Rico.