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Watch: Blossoming from caterpillar to platinum butterfly

Durban’s Ntombi Tshabalala with the tools of the trade which won her a top Plat Africa Jewellery design award. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban’s Ntombi Tshabalala with the tools of the trade which won her a top Plat Africa Jewellery design award. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 13, 2021


All that glisters turns out to be platinum for a jewellery designer from Durban’s Clare Estate.

Ntombi Tshabalala, 42, who works for J Hind Jewellers, recently won her category in the De Beers and Plat Africa awards.

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Tshabalala told the Independent on Saturday on Thursday that winning the PlatAfrica prize had been one of her best accomplishments.

"I’m grateful to our team at J Hind who helped make it happen. Being recognised at this level with such a respected award gives me confidence. I feel a sense of accomplishment ‒ hard work pays off. It feels unbelievably awesome, I still feel emotional when I think about it,“ said Tshabalala.

She said she had worked in the industry for 10 years and discovered her love of jewellery design four years ago. She was asked to manufacture a unique gents’ bracelet in platinum. She used the “recycling bin” to find the metal she needed to re-use to make the bracelet.

Ntombi Tshabalala’s winning design. Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

She also found herself making up different designs of neck chains and creating contemporary pendant and bracelet designs.

“I made up the bracelet from start to completion myself, seeing the end product inspired me. Guided by my perfectionist boss, I found myself moving from manufacturing jewellery to making masterpieces.

“Eco friendly packaging is used, boxes and paper, so it’s all about going green and having a smaller carbon footprint,” she said.

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Tshabalala said her mother had been a great influence on her life and had taught her how to be independent, the importance of family, how to set goals and to be a strong woman.

Tshabalala won the student/ apprentice category themed Metamorphosis, inspired by the transformation phases a caterpillar undergoes to morph into a butterfly.

Born in Qwaqwa, Free State, and a mother of eight, Tshabalala said her personal style was inspired by Tracy Reese, an American fashion designer specialising in women’s clothing, accessories and home fashion.

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“I feel her floral brand of hope is sustainable and designed for women who are inspired by beauty and desire to use their power as consumers to be agents for positive change in the world,” she said.

She described her design inspiration as Blossom, a symbol of rebirth, love and hope.

“Especially during Covid-19, I think everyone should be appreciated and loved.

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“The butterfly represents joy and bliss so by wearing the pendant, I’m inspired and graced with luck.”

“PlatAfrica is a highlight in our calendar and we have again been very impressed by the quality and creativity of the pieces,” said Anglo American Platinum chief executive Natascha Viljoen.

The Independent on Saturday

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