E.B Jewellery

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Umbala (Colour) Collection

While studying at the School of Jewellery, Emma has primarily worked in silver but she wanted to find a way to add more colour into her designs. For this project, she has combined her interest in contemporary South African craft with her range of jewellery skills and intrigue in designing for cold enamel for the first time to produce a range of vibrant silver pieces that includes pendants, bracelets, earrings and rings.

Her current body of work, ‘Umbala’ is inspired by the Southern Ndebele beadwork of South Africa. Umbala being the local Ndebele work for colour. Emma has generated her own designs on paper and CAD using some of the ideas behind the beadwork, for example; symmetry, focal point, straight lines and never letting colours touch each other. This project comprises of 5 sub-collections, Kunye (arrow collection), Bili (squares collection), Thathu (steps collection), Kune (octagon collection) and Hlanu (shield collection). These are the Ndebele words for 1-5. Throughout this project Emma has conferred with a master bead worker named Sophy Nosinkie Mahlangu, who runs Nomhlekhabo Craft Africa, an Ndebele beadwork co-op of twenty women.

         5% of the sales price of each piece of jewellery will be donated to the Nomhlekhabo co-op in South Africa.

For Ndebele women, identity is everything. In the past they have been recognised by their distinctive style of house painting (traditionally done by eye with an ostrich feather) and equally as elaborate beaded pieces that ranges from jewellery to craft to traditional outfits, such as aprons and more. The Ndebele style is both elaborate and divulging but it is also brilliantly simple. The designs themselves have no religious connotations, however some beaded outfits, such as the bridal dress, are of traditional importance as they are associated with rites of passage.

Emma was drawn to the Ndebele style because of the bright colours, intricate patterns and symmetry. The liaison between Sophy Mahlangu and Emma is Helene Smuts, of the non-profit organisation Africa Meets Africa, who has written extensively on their culture and often communicates on behalf of Sophy when delivering to clients who sometimes live abroad. Sophy’s co-op runs out of her own home where they produce and sell beadwork for local ceremonial use and to the visiting tourist trade. Emma decided to design a collection inspired by Ndebele beadwork that reflects a combination of their style and her own into a marketable range of pieces. After she first contacted Sophy Mahlangu to talk about my project, Emma commissioned a small set of beadwork made by Sophy herself (pictured below) that she has permission to use in exhibitions to give a visual reference of the projects context. For these beaded pieces, Emma gave Sophy complete creative freedom.

“We use beadwork to bring encouraging messages to our people. We enjoy our freedom.” Says Ester Mguni.

All pieces were made in 925 silver with hard cold enamel colouring.

All pieces were modelled on Rhino software, milled into wax on a CNC machine then cast in 925 silver before being soldered together and polished by Emma then taken to an enamellers.

-Band rings are M size, larger rings are P size. Included in the renders is a larger R sized set of both rings that will be produced soon.

-All bracelet: 17.8cm/7inches long

-All pendants: 43cm/17inches long

-Bracelets and pendants have a small 2cm extension chain included in the length.

-All pieces are 1.5mm thick with 0.4mm walls between the enamel.


Kunye Render Page Layout.jpg

Rendered on a combination of Matrix, Photoshop and CorelDraw software.

Bili Render Page.jpg

Rendered on a combination of Matrix, Photoshop and CorelDraw software.

Thathu Render Page.jpg

Rendered on a combination of Matrix, Photoshop and CorelDraw software.

Kune Render Layout Page.jpg

Rendered on a combination of Matrix, Photoshop and CorelDraw software.

Hlanu Render Page.jpg

Rendered on a combination of Matrix, Photoshop and CorelDraw software.

All photos taken by Emma Boshoff.