Locally Manufactured Jewellery with an African Flair

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Words: Kagiso Bonoko
Video: Brian Mthembu

Born and bred in Soweto, Nqobile Nkosi faced a similar challenge  the majority of black youth have, after finishing matric, the inability for  family to finance their children’s tertiary.  His family struggled to finance the electrical engineering course he so wanted to pursue after completing his matric. Faced with such a challenge, he took the next available opportunity, which was jewellery studies,  which had  bursaries being offered.

He fell in love with the course and completed it. He  then undertook an internship in the UK, learning more about the craft. When he came back to South Africa, he launched NQ Jewellery in 2007, and worked with his brother in their backyard shack.

In 2009, he won the Jet Community Award ‘Vuka Uzenzele’, which helped build his career. Three years after, in 2012, he was invited to showcase his jewellery at the Spring Fair International in Birmingham. In 2013, he enhanced his skills by studying diamond essentials at the Gemmological Institute of America.

“Diamond essentials is a programme that taught me how to put value behind diamonds and how to know which one is  good quality. It’s an overall study of diamonds,” said Nqobile.

In  2015, he was recruited by the Refinery to locate his brand at their Jewellery Village, where he manufactures jewellery and mentors up-and-coming jewellery makers. He also won the Tsogo Sun Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016, coming out on top among 200 SMMEs.

Nkosi then took it upon himself to develop young, talented designers, to  provide a platform for their  unique designs to get exposure.

Simplicity and elegance are the key elements and a cornerstone to the success of the establishment and all those who are part of it.

Today, Nqobile works with universities to equip aspiring jewellers with the experience they need, while NQ Jewellery forms part of the graduate development programme where graduates from local universities are offered opportunities to gain work experience in the UK Jewellery making market.

They also assist up-and-coming SMMEs to coach them in terms of compliance, to make sure they are in line with the South African Precious metal regulator in order to attain their license.

Through his initiative, thirty (30) people are now directly and indirectly employed meaning he has enabled thirty families to have a meaningful life.

One of the biggest challenges Nqobile faced was entering a niche market, a specialized industry  dominated by white people, especially as a young black jewellery designer from the township coupled with lack of financial resources and the right machinery.

Nqobile has the   Proudly SA’s Buy Local Summit to thank. If it had not been the exposure through that he would not be where he is today.  Being part of the Summit introduced him to other entrepreneurs with the same entrepreneurial spirit, who share or have overcome similar challenges. “This is a platform where a lot can be shared, collaborations created, and lessons learned from other passionate entrepreneurs.” – Nqobile Nkosi

His locally designed craftsmanship, with an African flair can be found at the Jewellery Village in Montecasino, Johannesburg. Their Jewellery Village has distinctive designs to suit anyone’s taste.

“As a proud South African, I feel that it’s my duty and an honour to help give others a chance at success whenever I can. It draws us all together as a community, making us stronger. Jobs are more precious than ever, and it’s up to each of us to try and make a difference.” – concluded  Nqobile.