Support local: 12 South African jewellery designers to watch

Categories Featured, Lifestyle, Proudly South African

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit our shores, leading to the announcement of stringent lockdown measures and an almost total shutdown of the economy, many South African small businesses have been struggling to stay afloat. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial to support and buy local.

In the light of this, I’ll be doing a series of posts over the next few weeks, featuring my favourite South African makers and brands – from jewellery designers and artists to skincare products and shoes.

Two weeks ago, I featured a few artists and illustrators whose work I dream of collecting. This week, I’ll be featuring 12 South African jewellery designers (presented in alphabetical order) whom I came across on Instagram during those lazy lockdown days. Their varied and diverse handiwork remains among the favourite posts in my feed. I do, however, think that I may have to do another round-up at a later stage – there are seriously SO MANY amazing jewellery-makers in this country!

If you have any local brands/makers you love – no matter what they do – please leave a suggestion in the comments! 

Adjani Jewellery

ADJANi

Established by designer, Adjani Schoeman, this Pretoria-based, four-person jewellery design team creates products from Murano glass and a variety of quality materials, such as pure silk, genuine leather, solid brass, sterling silver, gold lustre and ceramics.

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

Wearing jewels is a way to express the woman you are without saying a word & has the power to be this one little thing that can make you feel unique. Jewellery Design was a way in which I could combine my love for design (I studied interior design) and glass (specifically glass beadmaking).

What inspires you?

I am inspired by Scandinavian design. I love combining simplistic forms and clean simple lines with the bold colours of Murano Glass.

How would you describe your design style? 

We know that women have busy lives, and that finding the perfect accessories doesn’t have to be complicated. Our jewellery is versatile and easy to wear. We’re committed to offering beautiful, authentic jewellery and to make it more accessible for everyone so you never have to compromise between price and quality.

Visit ADJANi’s website and follow them on Instagram

ashley heather jewellery

ashley heather jewellery

‘ashley heather’ is an independent jewellery studio specialising in artisanal pieces crafted in precious metals reclaimed from circuit boards. How crazy cool is that?! Passionate about and committed to ethical production, they combine age-old goldsmithing techniques with contemporary designs to create unique jewellery with a conscience in their Woodstock studio. The brand was founded by Ashley Heather in 2011.

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

I stumbled into jewellery making quite by accident. I had always discounted it as an option for myself because of the environmental and social issues associated with mining and precious metals. Then one day I was visiting a friend and she just happened to be melting a crucible full of silver, I was completely spellbound by its shimmering viscosity.

I signed up for a part-time course the next day and one lesson in signed up for a fulltime jewellery design and manufacture course.

Armed with technical metalworking skills and a background in fine art I knew the only way to bring together my dual passions of sustainability and crafting precious metals was to go it on my own and so ‘ashley heather’ jewellery was born.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the world around me, I find the massive hulk of building’s angles just as inspiring as the texture of delicate blade of grass but mainly I delight in the challenge of distilling any design , no matter where its inspiration began, down to its essential elements.

How would you describe your design style? 

Nature-inspired minimalism.

I’m also specifically interested in the fact that you source your materials from e-waste! Could you maybe share how and why you started doing this?

I had toyed with the idea of becoming a jeweller in the past but had always been put off by the environmental and social issues associated with precious metals and mining. Once I discovered my passion for working with precious metals I knew I had to find a way to work within the medium I loved without compromising my sustainability ideals. The rest was a long process of research and discovery.

E-waste is one of the fastest-growing waste sources in the world, addressing this issues grows more critical every day and e-waste contains both gold and silver, a jeweller’s dream, it seemed like a natural fit!

Visit ashley heather’s website and follow them on Instagram

AYI

AYI

A day after writing his final matric exam in 2017, Andile Makaula said goodbye to Port Elizabeth and headed to Cape Town in the hopes of pursuing a career in fashion. He needed a job first, however, and started making contact with designers around the CBD. He landed an internship with Gillian Lawrence from Lorne (who you will meet a bit later in this article) and after displaying a natural talent for jewellery design (with no prior experience), became a permanent member of the team. In 2019, he began his full-time Diploma in Fashion at CPUT while working part-time and creating his own hand-crafting brass and silver jewellery. AYI was born in November last year.

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

I never really knew anything about jewellery – no matter how much research I did about it, I couldn’t seem  to understand it – until I sat in a bench at Lorne and switched on the motor to start polishing pieces of jewellery. I was gone completely and instantly fell in love with the idea of moulding and cleaning an object as though I was making an offering and bringing something new to the world.

What inspires you?

What inspires me is the freedom of creating whatever I want, the freedom of not being put in a box. Women play a huge role in my creativity, their personalities, their strength, the love and care they give.

How would you describe your design style? 

I would describe my style as simple, the kind of simple that can say so much and effortlessly bold.

Visit AYI’s Facebook page and give them a follow on Instagram

Folklorika

Folklorika

Folklorika jewellery is made by designer, Simone Toerien in her one-woman studio by the sea. As the name suggests, Folklorika is all about wonder and whimsy; weaving magic and nature together to create truly otherworldly artisanal pieces. Before being cast in silver or bronze, each piece is intricately hand-carved in wax. Simone releases limited monthly collections, which are only available for purchase online.

Visit the Folklorika website and follow her on Instagram

GemInEyes

GemInEyes

Now for something slightly more boho! GemInEyes is a home-based retailer in Centurion specialising in semi-precious gemstones, crystals and minerals, from which they also make beautiful pendants, rings, earrings, bracelets and crowns. The business founded in 2018 by cousins Malaika Evans and Palesa Rabotapi, when they purchased and transformed an existing operation formerly known as ‘Valley Gems.’

What made you fall in love with crystals and crystal jewellery?

Palesa: To be honest, it was Malaika who first introduced me to crystals. At that time, I knew absolutely nothing about them, so just thought ‘hmm a collection of pretty rocks’ – haha! A few months later I got injured and after my surgery, a friend of mine bought me a beautiful beautiful Amethyst and placed it on my knee and I’ll never forget how amazing the peaceful energy surging through me felt. After that, I just began reading and researching and learning. My love for them just escalated from there, naturally that one crystal – I felt – just began to heal my spirit almost instantly.

Malaika: I’m not 100% certain. I think it’s their alluring nature. Sometimes even now, I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that these stunning and multifarious coloured, shaped and textured stones come from the Earth. I guess when I think about how I was taught to think about the Earth, it was always in relation to dull and grime, muck and mess. Not magic and mystique, ancient knowledge and access- which is what the crystals, as well as the Earth, is. I suppose this is the alluring quality I am trying to explain. This inherent embodiment and access to the riches of the world that is right beneath our feet, right in our world- a truth that many neglect and crystals present themselves as wonderful reminders, keepers, and healers of this ancient and helpful understanding.

What inspires you?

Palesa: The clearest answer would be my family, they’re all incredibly powerful and healers in their own way. Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a psychologist so I could help people. With crystals, I feel so blessed and privilege to contribute to the health and healing of all of our customers every day it’s like this beautiful gift for me that I could fit my love of family and helping others into a business while simultaneously chasing my dreams.

Malaika: Yoh. Pale said it hey. Pale said it!

How would you describe the GemInEyes style?

Palesa: difficult question but for me, I think…Malaika and I personally hand pick every single one of our crystals and so everything is quality and it isn’t just about stocking our shelves but rather picking the best quality to connect our client to and with and I love that more intimate aspect to us.

So I suppose I’d say refreshing, personal and motivational!

Malaika: Pale! Our leader, she took it home. Refreshing, personal and motivational is truly it.

Above all, I believe our style is honest. We are who we are, we are consistently trying to grow our communities and put healing energy into the world. We come with a truth that we will not compromise on and that is the T!

Check GemInEyes out on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

Lorne

Lorne

Taking a modern sculptural approach to jewellery design, Lorne was founded by artistic director and designer, Gillian Lawrence in 2016. The brand aims to challenge traditional jewellery making with modern subjectivity defined by unusual shapes and structures. The result? Bold yet polished statements, which have become synonymous with the Lorne’s essence.

Gillian is joined by fellow designer and head manufacturer, Simone Langeveldt. The two met while studying Jewellery Design & Manufacture at CPUT a couple of years ago. When Gillian realised she needed some help with Lorne, Simone was the first person who came to mind. Attempts at making contact failed, however, and Gillian appointed Andile (mentioned earlier), who proved to be a naturally talented designer. When he decided to launch his own brand, AYI, Gillian was once again on the lookout for assistance. “I think I was procrastinating, because I was stressing more than I was advertising or being proactive and then out of the blue, without knowing that I had tried to get in touch with her, Simone reached out for a job position,” Gillian says.

Just shows you – when things are meant to be, they will be!

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

I’d say initially it was the practical and craftsmanship side of things. It’s a beautiful and interesting craft that doesn’t only teach you hand skill but also patience and precision. On top of that, working at the bench allows for quiet and meditative time. After that was leant I’d say it’s now the empty canvas and design side of things. The fact that we can make and play and create freely.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by mistakes, spontaneity and surprise. I’m not fond of preplanning and expectations, I find organic design is much more honest to Lorne’s brand style. We make so much variety, yet I feel it holds unity in the label aesthetic.

How would you describe your design style? 

Adventurous, playful, elegant, strong.

Visit Lorne’s website and follow them on Instagram.

Maidenstone

Maiden Stone

Based in Durban, Maiden Stone aims to capture the diversity, cultures and beauty of South Africa. The brand was launched by designer, Terri Lynne Stone in 2015 during her second year of jewellery design and manufacture at Durban University of Technology. Terri is one of those lucky people who just *knew* she had found her calling in an instant – in her case, it happened the moment she stepped into a jewellery workshop for the first time.

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

I absolutely love everything about jewellery. From the design aspect, to working with gorgeous gemstones, to presenting a unique piece of jewellery to an ecstatic customer that will be worn for years to come. It’s so rewarding to follow a design through all the way from when it was only an idea in your head, to it being an actual piece of jewellery that somebody treasures.

What inspires you?

Pinterest! It is probably the most visited website on my computer. I always find things that inspire me to create new designs there. I am also very inspired by other female-owned jewellery businesses. They prove to me that with the right attitude, anyone can do great things.

How would you describe your design style? 

I love the clean geometric shapes that are found in both art deco and Ndebele design. I love to create things that are quite bold, yet simple at the same time. I also always try to create jewellery that is unique and true to myself, instead of just following trends.

Visit the Maidenstone website and follow them on Instagram.

Meraki Jewellery

Meraki Jewellery

meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective) A word that modern Greeks use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — putting “something of yourself” into your work.

Each Meraki Jewellery Design piece is handcrafted by Cape Town-based designer, Megan Keyser. Using raw stones, sterling silver and recycled brass, Megan and her team create delicate, timeless pieces that draw inspiration from geometric forms, travels and an appreciation for well-made objects and heirlooms

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

My parents are both creatives, having their own pottery studio and business, so I’ve always grown up around creating and playing with different materials. I love jewellery because of the fine details and the infinite amount of possibilities that come with combining different materials, both natural and manmade.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by nature, the geometric forms found all around me, and my travels.

How would you describe your design style? 

Meraki jewellery pieces range from playful to effortlessly elegant, always with a subtle, sophisticated edge. Each piece is designed to age with grace and serves as an affirmation of each wearer’s personal style.

Visit Meraki’s website and follow them on Instagram.

SMITH Jewellery

SMITH Jewellery

SMITH Jewellery is a Cape Town-based brand owned by Anna Raimondo. After studying BA Jewellery Design and Gemmology at Stellebosch University, Anna went on to study luxury design at the Richemont Group’s Creative Academy in Milan, Italy. The course included an internship at Chloe, the renowned French fashion house!

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

I kind of fell into jewellery design at university and only really started to love it in my 3rd year where I created this magical and super technical design which everyone was telling me I couldn’t do. From then on I was hooked.

What inspires you?

Mostly nature, but to be honest it could be anything – from tile designs, to fashion, to places I’ve visited. Jewellery is a personal totem for the wearer and I like to make designs that remind them of a place or moment.

How would you describe your design style? 

I like to make jewels that are different, but that are also classic to last through the years and become modern heirlooms.

Visit the SMITH website and follow them on Instagram.

Spirit Jewellery

Spirit Jewellery

After living in Egypt, where she studied jewellery-making, designer Nikki Shepherd returned to South Africa to follow her passion and love for creating beautiful things, starting Spirit Jewellery in 2010. The brand embodies Nikki’s pursuit of simple sophistication.

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

I have always had a love for beautiful jewellery and was interested in jewellery-making while in Egypt. So I signed up for silver crafting and beading courses to fill my time. When we moved back to South Africa, I soon resigned from my corporate job and decided to follow my passion for delicate jewellery. I was inspired by my love for beautiful things, my passion for delicate jewellery and my desire to work for myself.

What inspires you?

Spirit Jewellery draws its inspiration from simplistic beauty and nature. Each piece is individually handcrafted using various techniques and put together with a style that combines symbolic images from nature with contemporary designs. Sterling silver is also Gold and Rose Gold-plated, or oxidized to add variety to the collection and keep up with the latest fashion trends. I’m inspired to create jewellery that people love, and find joy in wearing or giving as a special gift.

How would you describe your design style? 

Our design style could be described as simplistic beauty with a natural feel. Spirit is understated, elegant, feminine and delicate.

Visit the Spirit Jewellery website and follow them on Instagram.

Steffany Roup Design

Steffany Roup Design

Steffany Roup’s jewellery design journey started back in 1998, when she embarked on Jewellery Design and Manufacturing at CPUT. These days she works from her flat in beautiful Sea Point, where she creates her timeless pieces that effortlessly blend nostalgia with a contemporary feel.

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

I love making things, jewellery has the power (along with clothes) to allow a person to express their personality and mood by what they choose to wear. Jewellery also carries so much meaning -a gift from a loved one, a promise, celebrating something important, a talisman or reminder of something/one. I get a sense of purpose from being able to express my creativity and at the same time allowing this kind of expression for the wearer. And it’s something I see as quite important and at times even an honour.

What inspires you?

Nature- crystals and stones, the ocean, light, friends, interiors and furniture, feelings, simplicity, history, memories.

How would you describe your design style? 

It’s a mix of contemporary/fashion and classic/nostalgic at the same time if that makes sense. I think it’s so hard to make something new and almost impossible to make something original these days- so it’s more about the timing of it, the quality and feel of it. And by having an awareness of it – it translates into the pieces I make.

Visit Steffany Roup’s website and follow her on Instagram.

Tali & Damy

Tali & Damy

Founded by Adelaide Mavu, Tali & Dami is a Cape Town-based brand hand-crafting jewellery with a signature matte finish. Adelaide was born and raised in Zimbabwe and came to South Africa to complete her secondary education, followed by a course in jewellery design and manufacture at the Ruth Prowse School of Art. During non-lockdown times, you’re bound to find Tali & Damy at a range of Mother City markets. At the moment, you can purchase her products via Instagram DM.

What made you fall in love with jewellery design?

Two things..I’ve always been creative..I think and I’ve always been good with working with my hands. Jewellery design gave me the platform to bring my ideas to life. So my motto is..if you can imagine it, you can bring it to life!

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by random combinations of shapes, organic forms, colour texture and natural forms like the moon, water drop and even pebbles

How would you describe your design style? 

To be honest this may be a difficult question but I’d describe my design style as classic timeless everyday wear. The matte gives the classic look!

Check out Tali & Damy on Facebook and follow them on Instagram.

3 thoughts on “Support local: 12 South African jewellery designers to watch

  1. Thank you for sourcing all these wonderful stories about creative geniuses and their art: truly inspiring!
    You manage to showcase and create platforms for so many diverse humans who do exceptional things.
    Don’t stop! You do it with finesse and style…

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