Clothes may take center stage in the fashion world, but jewelry has the power to change everything about an outfit. As brands that pay attention to sustainability dominate the market, we explore not just clothes, but jewelry designers who are sampling traditional techniques and applying them to create handmade wearable products. Mostly influenced by art, culture and their backgrounds, these designers create pieces that are interchangeably bold, minimal, and afrocentric.
Anitah Quansah, Nigeria
Thinking about it, Anita Quansah‘s extravagant head and neck pieces never fail to light up the runway with the kind of drama that deserves a resounding applause. Her lookbooks on the other hand, offer details of lavishly trimmed frills, intricate flounces and feathers, coupled with decorative hand beading. Fused with varying reclaimed parts of vintage jewelry, her pieces are strong statements designed with the articulated armour like look in mind. In a nutshell, each piece is an integration of unexpected elements, semi-precious stones, mixed materials and rare African beads which create playful, expressive and unusual one-off pieces.
Henriette Botha, South Africa
The ones who make an effort to professionally study their craft are arguably easy to spot, like Henriette Botha who has a degree in jewellery design and manufacture. In 2012, she moved back to South Africa after studying and working in fashion abroad, with the intention of using her knowledge in jewelry design combined with the skills of local crafters to create beautiful, modern jewelry indigenous to South Africa. Her approach to African jewelry uses bold and colorful beadwork combined with semi-precious stones and crocheting.
Nyubani Design, Tanzania
Sculpted by hand from different sections of wood, Nyumbani (meaning ‘home’) –a colourful amalgamation of the designers’ homes in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and East Africa– is inspired by the beauty and colours of the Swahili coast. Structured, geometrical and minimal, the label draws inspiration from architecture and believes in creating simple yet distinctively desirable pieces of wearable art that are handcrafted and shaped by skilled artisans throughout Tanzania using locally sourced wood.
Pichulik, South Africa
Pitchulik is said to be for bold and courageous women, which is understandably so as it’s comprised of a range of wild handcrafted neckpieces inspired by African/ Middle Eastern Ornamentation. The designer, Katherine-Mary Pichulik, is a rope sculptor who uses locally manufactured ropes and interesting found materials to create jewelry for brave women.
I Ami, Kenya
Ami Shah creates the most beautiful jewelry from brass, as well as a mélange of materials including pearls, black tourmaline, malachite, grosgrain, and leather. Trained as a jeweller and a silversmith, Ami pays attention to details and follows the process from illustrating her designs to actually creating them. Made in Kenya, Ami’s statement neck pieces always has been and continues to be an exploration of adornment’s ability to create and imbue sculptural form against the body, which also by default should stand beautifully, isolated, even in absence of the softness and curvature of the human skin.
Skermunkil, South Africa
Skermunkil is a husband-and-wife partnership jewelry business that has been up and running since 2009, a time when they were inspired by old 1950’s 1960’s illustrated children’s books, second hand/antique shopping, traveling, people, stones, cape town, flowers and birds. Currently refashioned into a Design Studio, the small jewelry design and manufacturing company creates dainty pieces focused on geometric lines in contemporary jewelry.
Oh, if you know of any other brand not mentioned here, try leaving a comment to let us know!