Since the dawn of time humans have sought to adorn themselves with beautiful beads, metals and precious stones. Today is no different with diverse cultures all over the world expressing themselves through their jewellery. But have you ever bought something on your travels that reminded you of the place you visited or embodies the essence of that destination?
Africa has some incredibly beautiful jewellery and what better keepsake to take back with you in your suitcase to remind you of this utterly magical continent than a piece of jewellery?
This month we’ve decided to highlight five local jewelers whose creations you should look out for and who we think are definitely worth a visit.
1. Anna Trzebinski
Based in Kenya, Anna Trzebinski’s shop is a treasure trove full of beautiful things. Anna’s story is an interesting one and demonstrates her love affair with Africa. Born in Germany (but raised in Kenya) hers was a carefree childhood in East Africa. She first studied Economics at the London School of Economics and then completed a Sotheby’s Fine Art Course. But her love of Kenya and its people saw her relocating to the country of her childhood where she started a small leatherware company with a friend. It was during this time that she became interested in traditional Masai beading and African crafts.
She opened the Anna Trzebinski studio shortly thereafter, which is set close to Giraffe Manor surrounded by her garden and 250 acres of indigenous forest. She works with and has trained tribal woman (mostly single mothers) to produce unique, one-of-a-kind pieces that are perfect for anyone looking to take a special memory of Kenya home with them.
Her jewellery pieces are bold, colourful works of art that reflect the spirit of Africa, and you can see the love and care that has gone into meticulously creating every piece. Her studio not only creates jewellery pieces, but anything from embellished pashminas to handbags, shoes, home accessories and art.
2. Ida Elsje
Based in the vibrant city of Cape Town, Ida Elsje creates incredibly beautiful handcrafted jewellery out of metal that are miniature sculptural pieces in themselves, and reflect her mastery of the craft. Her jewellery has been described as ranging from ‘daring street fashion to dazzling haute couture’ and she is certainly no stranger when it comes to the international fashion scene. This year saw her collaborating with Gavin Rajah for the New York Fashion Show, which took place in September, as well as the Paris Fashion Week, which is scheduled for this month.
If you are toying with the idea of buying your diamonds in South Africa and having your engagement ring designed here, Ida is the perfect choice as she specializes in personalized engagement rings with custom-cut diamonds or other precious stones.
One of South Africa’s top jewellery designers, Ida likes collaborating with creative minds such as architect Gregory Katz and jeweler Philippa Green (they co-own the shop Olive Green Cat). Together they have brought out a collaborative jewellery range entitled Situ, which encases diamonds in coloured and clear resin to show off their quality and cut.
3. Tiffany Marx
If you like organic, beautiful shapes and elegance then Tiffany Marx is the jeweller for you. Also based in Cape Town, Tiffany’s unique jewellery pieces were first showcased at the Design Indaba in 2006, and since then she has steadily been notching up design awards such as the Plat Africa Awards where she received a Special Mention in the 5 Spectacular Rings Category in 2007 and the Anglo Gold Auditions ‘Urban Tribes’ Jewellery Design Competition which she won in 2009-2010.
Tiffany’s simple yet elegant designs are inspired both by the clean lines found in Japanese design, as well as the natural beauty of elements found in Africa such as a thorn tree or the organic shape of a flower. This South African jeweller creates bespoke pieces in either silver, platinum or gold and she still designs and makes each piece herself, so you can be assured your personal piece of jewellery has been created with exceptional quality.
Situated in Hout Bay, a mere 20 minutes out of Cape Town city and en route to the famous Chapman’s Peak you’ll find Rockchic, a small shop specializing in handmade Gemstone jewellery and healing gemstones.
Started by enterprising duo Kathleen and Michele, this shop is a great place to visit whilst on your peninsula tour to Cape Point. Browse through their incredible selection of esoteric gemstones and healing crystals, as well as multi-coloured beads that have been sourced from all over the globe including Madagascar, India, Mexico, Afghanistan and of course South Africa.
You can buy unusual and unique pieces directly off the floor, commission something, or make up your own by buying unstrung beads. Each piece is lovingly hand-crafted and designed, so you are sure to be the only one wearing that particular design.
5. Kirsten Goss
Last, but by no means least, is one of my personal favourite South African jewelers. Kirsten Goss (a qualified gemologist and jewellery designer) opened her first flagship store in London in 2002 and has not looked back. Opening further stores in Cape Town, her hometown of Durban, and most recently in Johannesburg, this internationally acclaimed jeweler has a knack for creating treasurable jewellery pieces.
Visit any one of her stores and you will find yourself drooling over her exquisite one-of-a-kind pieces. Kirsten’s jewellery is instantly recognizable (she still designs and oversees her entire collection) and her unique designs ooze with craftsmanship, London edginess and bright, bold colours that are reminiscent of her South African roots.
Her latest Shaman collection features unique glass beads that she sourced on her last trip to Accra (the capital of Ghana) where she was inspired by the traditional technique of making Ghanian glass beads. Each bead is entirely made by hand from recycled glass; first crushed, then fired in a traditional kiln, before meticulously being hand-painted in different colours and intricate patterns. Largely influenced by tribal adornment, Kirsten’s latest collection cleverly juxtaposes semi-precious cut stones with highly polished metal and traditional Ghanian glass beads into striking must-have items.
So whether you are looking for the perfect gift from your African travels or want to take back a part of this continent’s magnetism to treasure forever, these five jewellers are certain not to disappoint.