By Olivia Quiniquini
The De Beers Group’s southern African design competition helps nurture talent in diamond-producing countries by providing a platform for emerging jewellery designers to showcase their skills. Winners of the 2016/17 edition pay tribute to their environs in their captivating designs illustrating the beauty of nature.
Three promising jewellery designers from Africa have been cast into the limelight and are poised to receive opportunities on the global stage after winning the 2016/17 Shining Light Awards.
Part of the De Beers Young Jewellery Designers Skills Development Initiative, the southern African design competition recognises and celebrates emerging jewellery designers in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa by providing entrants with a valuable platform to build their careers in the jewellery design industry. Participants were required to design commercially viable jewellery collections that demonstrated an artistic interpretation of this year’s theme, “Protecting Nature’s Beauty,” which was chosen by Forevermark to highlight its commitment to biodiversity, conservation and sustainability.
Three finalists from each of the three countries were selected from more than 130 participants for their outstanding jewellery designs and unique interpretation of the theme. The winners were announced at a special ceremony in Windhoek, Namibia last November.
Mbako Baraedi, a jewellery designer and manufacturer, bested finalists from Botswana with his “Li-Phant” collection, which embraces design elements from two of Africa’s formidable Big Five animals. The collection is inspired by a lion’s paw print, which symbolises power, and an elephant trunk, which curled around a diamond represents the bond between wildlife and diamonds, two natural resources requiring careful management.
The first runner-up from Botswana was Tshepo Dithebele, while Gaone Caroline Otsile came in third.
“It Begins With Us,” the winning entry from Namibia’s Richardlee Shoombe, drew inspiration from the idea that human emotions can be a driving force for artistic expression and positive change, especially towards protecting nature. Shoombe, who enrolled at the age of 12 at the Arts Performance Centre in the mining town of Tsumeb, sees himself as a visual arts educator. The second and third prize winners from Namibia were Frans Uunona and Taleni Udeiko respectively.
"This year's theme - Protecting Nature's Beauty - was chosen by Forevermark to highlight its commitment to biodiversity, conservation and sustainability."
Andile Mbeje, a student who aspires to work as a jewellery designer for an international company, took top honours for South Africa. His collection, “Crowning Glory,” was inspired by the country's Kudu or spiral-horned antelope. Omphile Sibanda and Gabrielle Lourens were named South Africa’s first and second runners-up respectively.
The three winners receive a 12-month apprenticeship at the Forevermark Design and Innovation Centre in Milan, Italy. First runners-up get a three-month internship at the same centre, while second runners-up will be enrolled in a jewellery skills development programme at a local university.
Stephen Lussier, De Beers Group’s executive vice president, marketing and Forevermark’s CEO, said, “Through the Shining Light Awards, Forevermark is pleased to support the careers and learning experiences of emerging jewellery designers from southern Africa and provide them with the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the global jewellery design industry by working alongside designers at one of the world’s fastest-growing diamond brands.”