Picture of Pepe Holliday

Our Founder- Pepe Holliday

Sakata’s distinguished history dates back to 1957, when the late Pepe Holliday opened Sakata Jewellers at its original location at Irish Town, Gibraltar.

Pepe’s entrepreneurial flair led to its rapid success and encouraged by the early promise shown by the shop, he soon moved the shop to its present, ideally located premises in Gibraltar’s Main Street.

The sudden closure of the frontier between Gibraltar and Spain in  1969 changed the lives and dreams of those who lived in the area but far from letting this become an impediment, Pepe forged ahead, quickly establishing himself as a pioneer in the region,  dedicating himself wholeheartedly to to the wholesale and retail of cultured pearls, diamonds and watches. He even set up a watch factory in Gibraltar. His dynamism and ardour quickly led to the expansion of the business and he soon established offices in the UK and Spain.

During these years his reputation was firmly cemented among his clients and vendors. He prided himself on his close ties with clients and suppliers alike. In fact, the name “Sakata” originates from the first Japanese pearl farm he sourced his cultured pearls from – Sakata Pearls of Japan. Sakata earned its moniker, “King of Cultured Pearls” from its overwhelming market leadership in the sector and it was adopted as part of the Sakata name in the early 1970s. Both the name and the moniker are the essence of the business today.

During the early years, Pepe was assisted by his right-hand man, or woman in this case, his sister Anita. Her charm resided greatly on her warm smile and her contribution to the business was paramount – her passion for pearls was infectious and she would often admit quite freely, “I love pearls”. Anita was widely regarded as ‘the’ expert in cultured pearls, diamonds and precious stones. After her retirement she remained and invaluable source of expertise and wisdom offering her counsel when needed. She transmitted this love for pearls to her niece Lillian who was Pepe’s eldest daughter. It was Lillian who took the reins upon Pepe’s premature death in 1988 and under her stewardship, Sakata’s reputation continued to grow and prosper. Her charisma, her distinct charm, her engaging personality and her unwavering commitment to the family business ensured the continued success story that was Sakata and with the help of her other siblings namely Joe, Susan, Jackie and Patricia, Sakata grew to new heights. Upon his return from the UK in 1998 where he had been studying since the death of his father, Pepe’s youngest son James, joined the business. Lillian immediately took him under her wing and acted as his mentor for the following few years until her death in 2003. James often refers back to these years as the most formative of his career.

Image of Pepe and his daughter Lillian on a business trip in Italy

Pepe and his daughter Lillian on a business trip in Italy

James Holliday Image

James Holliday

Lillian not only imparted a wealth of technical knowledge but she also managed to transmit her passion for jewellery and instil in him a love for the business which surpassed his expectations. James fondly remembers their visits to trade fairs around the world and he often describes her as the “ultimate consumer”. He is convinced that this was one of the secrets of her success in business – as an avid shopper herself, she knew the importance of delivery and of providing all of her customers an experience to rival all others. Yet, he often says that the most valuable lesson that she taught him was to recognise the foundation of trust as the basis or cornerstone of all jewellery business. “If you don’t know jewellery, know your jeweller” she would often say.

Just before Lillian’s passing, as a result of a family business re-structure James took sole ownership and control of the business. He now represents the latest generation of the Holliday family in the domain of pearls and fine jewellery and brings more than two decades worth of industry experience. To this day, James continues to be inspired by his father and his sister before him. The intense passion for pearls and fine jewellery combined with traditional values, and integrity form part of his DNA. Today, Sakata’s clientele – both local and international bare witness to its unrivalled reputation as the leading pearl and diamond jeweller in Gibraltar. James’s strong personal relationships with this clients and suppliers alike is the driving force behind this vision for Sakata as is his determination to perpetuate the legacy of the Sakata name – synonymous with fine quality gems, exceptional value and highest standards of manufacture.

Our Team Image

Our Team