South Africa is one of the largest producers of gold, platinum and diamonds in the world, so it’s no surprise that it’s also home to countless innovative jewellery designers. Many focus on African-inspired motifs or use South African gems and precious metals to create exquisite pieces that have been lauded by the local and international design community. These are the names to know.
Minimalist designs with a geometric focus are a speciality of A Bird Named Frank, based at Hope Street Studios in the centre of Cape Town. The company was founded by creatives Caryn Fourie and Peter Campbell, who have backgrounds in fashion and sculpture respectively, and merge their talents to make statement handmade jewellery with an emphasis on balance, form and wearability.
Expect to find something fabulous at Anna Rosholt’s online shop, which stocks jewellery influenced by the designer’s life in South Africa and celebrates the stories, creatures and mystical symbolism of the country. Handmade in her Cape Town studio, Anna’s designs are opulent, elaborate creations designed to be treasured forever. They include custom-made engagement rings and a collection dedicated to the Cape honey bee, which stimulates the local ecology by pollinating fruit and vegetables as well as producing honey.
For a piece of dramatic jewellery you won’t see on anyone else, visit Bellareathe. Known for her extravagant one-of-a-kind designs with a striking contemporary feel, owner and jeweller Phoebe du Preez translates her interest in the bizarre and dramatic into her work. Her distinctive designs include organically fused and formed pieces and unexpected combinations of clean-cut designs with rough crystals.
Famke is a household name in South Africa for its sleek, streamlined sterling silver and gold jewellery. It has outlets in the Watershed, V&A Waterfront and Rand Steam as well as a curated concept store on Buitenkant Street in Cape Town. The offerings include dainty bracelets, necklaces and earrings, bespoke engagement and wedding bands and a range in 9-karat yellow gold, and all combine style and simplicity for an elegant, timeless feel.
Henriette Botha spent four years studying in Paris, then worked for luxury fashion house Balmain before she returned to Johannesburg to establish her chic jewellery brand. She now sells easy-to-wear, classic pieces that can be worn every day or layered for a more dramatic evening effect. Her ready-to-wear range is highly customisable and can be personalised with stones or engravings to make something unique; she also offers a fully bespoke jewellery service and sells one-off vintage finds on her website.
Based in Pretoria and run by Lorean Britz, Lorean Jewellery specialises in creating bespoke wedding and engagement rings. The brand offers custom designs and handcrafted jewellery, working with a variety of stones including diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. Recent commissions have included earrings with scattered black diamonds set in gold, a solitaire emerald-cut salt and pepper diamond and a baguette-cut emerald flanked by two round diamonds.
Cape Town-based designer Megan Keyser completed her degree in jewellery design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2012, and set up Meraki Jewellery Design the following year. She uses raw stones, sterling silver and recycled brass to create striking designs based on heirlooms, geometric forms and her travels round the world. The result is sophisticated but playful jewellery that stays faithful to the natural beauty of the raw materials used in each piece. Meraki also offers a custom service designing bespoke engagement and wedding rings.
Inspired by all kinds of nature, especially trees and their leaves, Nina Bosch makes handsome, eye-catching pieces from porcelain. She works from her studio in White River, Mpumalanga, but also sells through stores in Nelspruit and Hoedspruit. Her designs are meticulously detailed with conversation-starting shapes, vivid colours and patterns, often set with beautiful gold accents.
Simplicity and elegance are key in Spirit Jewellery designs. From necklaces to silk and leather bracelets, their collections combine soft, natural colours, understated designs and natural motifs with unusual semi-precious stones sourced from around the world. The brand is the brainchild of Cape Town designer Nikki Shepherd, who studied jewellery-making in Egypt before returning to South Africa, where she sells Spirit designs at the Watershed in the V&A Waterfront and Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay.
When only a bespoke design will do, VEERS help dreams become reality. Founded by Vera du Toit after she finished her studies at Daniel Jacobs Jewellery Design and Manufacture in Stellenbosch, the company makes jewellery with meaningful designs and unusual textures, using distinctive gemstones and special metals. The brand is particularly popular for engagement and wedding bands.
Yellow is the brainchild of Jessica Lea, who learned her craft through experimentation but went on to study jewellery in New York and has since exhibited her work in London, Paris and San Francisco. She is now based in Cape Town, where she designs by hand using sterling silver and brass alongside locally manufactured and ethical materials. Her work is minimalist but playful, with distinctive motifs, a relaxed wearability and a distinct rock ‘n’ roll edge.
Adele Dejak makes luxurious African-inspired jewellery handcrafted in Kenya from materials used by different African tribes. The brand makes bold and contemporary jewellery alongside covetable bags and exclusive home décor items. It was started by Adele herself, who grew up admiring her mother’s tribal jewellery, and is now stocked around the world, including in London, Montreal, Paris, Singapore and New York.
Jenna Clifford is an internationally acclaimed jewellery designer known for her dramatic designs and celebrity following. The family-owned brand’s online store features a selection of their ready-to-wear collections including pearl, topaz and citrine rings, but jewellery devotees should head to the boutique in Pretoria or design studio in Sandton to experience the personal touch for which Jenna Clifford is famous.
Cape Town-based designer Anna Raimondo studied fine art at Stellenbosch University and design in Milan before forming SMITH in late 2010. Her elegant, unusual designs use precious stones, recycled brass, sterling silver and precious metals, and Smith also offers clients the chance to design their own jewellery for special occasions or to breathe new life into an heirloom jewel.
Katy started designing jewellery after falling in love with India. Based in Cape Town, her range now fuses stunning African and Indian elements, mixing antique trade beads from West Africa with gemstones from Jaipur, set in brass and sterling silver with gold-plated finishes. Melding Katy’s own African heritage with the distinctive, vibrant colours of India, the collection also features pyjamas and Indian cotton gowns alongside rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.