By: Tebogo Mokwena
A certain level of training is required to have a greater chance of running a jewellery business. And while creativity also plays a huge role in making jewellery, competent skills ensure that the products are of great quality. These are the lessons that jeweller Diana Kinyanjui learned and implemented on her journey to becoming a jeweller. Kinyanjui learnt the basics of jewellery design from her mother, who was a jeweller when she was a teenager. But she also obtained formal training before she started her business, Diana Kinyanjui Jewellery.
Kinyanjui said she and her sister would be sent by their mother to get supplies. She would then give them samples so that they could recreate them. Kiyanjui’s love for jewellery design eventually led her to request a loan of R100 to buy materials for her own jewellery in 2016. She purchased denim, lace, pleather, and strings. She made chokers and neckpieces which she sold at her high school. In 2021 she worked with TMDS (Themba Mantshiyo Design Studio) Africa, an art and design company based in Newtown, Johannesburg. There she learned metalwork, fretwork and prong settings for rings.
Kiyanjui, whose business is in Johannesburg, makes pieces such as rings, bracelets, neckpieces, earrings and anklets. She also makes jewellery from stone beads and semi-precious stones. She crafts her jewellery using materials such as brass, copper, stainless steel, sterling silver and 18-carat gold plating. Her products are sold online and at pop-up markets. “The 18-carat gold plating forms part of the custom orders and is a service that we outsource from a licensed, reputable and trusted refinery,” Kiyanjui told Vutivi News.
She said her products are handcrafted with love, care and attention to detail. “My craftsmanship journey has been one that spans over a period of years with a variety of tutors guiding me along the way,” she said. “The elevation in craft also forced me to elevate the packaging and overall customer experience. I pride myself in providing tailored customer service for each client I interact with.” Kiyanjui believes that the opportunities in the sector are endless, despite the challenge jewellers face in accessing markets and funding to grow their businesses. “The jewellery industry provides space for creative collaboration, innovation and broad entrepreneurship,” she said. “One can partner with a store and supply their jewellery pieces for stock or even create their own value chain by opening up their own store and sell as retail.”