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SHINING LIGHT AWARDS COLLECTION (article first published : 2001-09-13)

Launched in 1996, the De Beers Shining Light Awards for Excellence in Diamond Jewellery Design aims to support the South African diamond jewellery industry by promoting young talent. The competition also seeks to create opportunities for skills development and job creation for those who may have been previously excluded from the industry.

This year’s competition invited entrants to draw their inspiration from the rich symbolism of Africa and to push beyond traditional barriers, designing innovative and progressive pieces of diamond jewellery. Suggested as reference points were: the African city, beadwork, textiles, body painting, hairstyles and wood carvings. De Beers also expressed their desire for the incorporation of new and interesting materials into the designs.

The superb collection which comprises the fourth De Beers Shining Light Awards is currently on show at the NSA’s Main Gallery. The designs are beautiful, awe-inspiring and offering a significant modern spirit while being essentially wearable.

The Shining Light Award Overall Winner is Neena Rama whose dazzlingly elegant white and pink gold neckpiece set with “white” and “brown” diamonds resembles the classic geometric shapes in African art. Neena Rama got her inspiration at the tender age of 12 when she was on holiday in Durban and wandering through The Workshop complex. She watched a jeweller at work and intrigued by the process eventually produced a design for a necklace which was to form the basis of her award winning piece so many years later. Neena’s work is due to go on show at Beverley Jewellers at the Pavilion shortly.

Durban can be proud of Technikon Natal jewellery design student Ella Mentis, one of the 12 Shining Light Award winners, whose dramatic bracelet and neckpiece is also on show.

Winning designers who could not afford to make up their selected pieces have been sponsored by individual jewellers who have given generously of their finance and time, working closely with the designer in the creation of their pieces. In order to further develop design skills, De Beers provided ten of the most promising students with bursaries each to the value of R5,000 to pay for their next year of study.

“We have to realize that we live in a global village with our major market being the rest of the world,” says Andre Marais, manager of Diamond Projects at De Beers. “To be able to compete we have to take cognisance of design trends in those markets. We are getting there but still have some way to go. The challenge is to create our own South African identity, which is desirable from an international, contemporary design point of view. We have the talent, the time to make our mark is now!”

This superb exhibition remains open to the public until September 21.




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