THE winners of this year’s Thuthuka Jewellery Awards have been announced. The annual exhibition is a collaboration between the Thuthuka Jewellery Development Programme and the Department of Arts and Culture.

The exhibition is held at the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (Fada) from March 1 to 11. Now in its 10th year, the awards showcase the young talent at design schools across South Africa and attracted more than 200 entries from 11 institutes. Sixty-eight pieces were selected to be displayed at the exhibition.

Zeenat Adams, a second-year student at the Durban University of Technology, won the prize for most outstanding student jewellery piece, for her delicate necklace combining sterling silver, woven cotton thread and seed glass beads. Lincoln Mokoena, a master trainer at the Ekurhuleni Jewellery Project, was the overall winner of the excellence award for his sterling silver and gold-plated multifunctional necklace with detachable marbles.

This year’s brief was “geometry redefined”.

Students had to reinterpret and redefine basic geometric shapes: the cube, prism, cylinder and sphere. Students were then given an additional challenge to incorporate a found object and some colour in their design.

“Working to a conceptually difficult design brief, the top pieces showed an unprecedented calibre of design, demonstrating a diversity of thought and innovation,” said project director and founder of the Thuthuka Jewellery Development Programme, Carola Ross.

“For these students, this is the culmination of a year’s worth of design conceptualisation, which they would not otherwise have been exposed to because of the disparities in exposure to design capacity faced by many of the facilities in South Africa.

“The ability to have their work celebrated at the Thuthuka Jewellery Awards provides them with insight into the design world while showcasing their talent.”

The Global Jewellery Academy in Lenasia, an institution that specialises in training the hearing impaired, had the added challenge of translating technical jewellery-making terms into sign language. First-year student Jacob Makulwane won the award in the hearing impaired category and “bears witness (not only) to his innate talent and ambition, but also to his ability to focus on the challenge of grasping the complexity of the design brief”.

The 2017 Thuthuka Awards winners:

* Most outstanding student jewellery piece: Zeenat Adams, 2nd year/ Durban University of Technology

* New talent award: Thabo Mapota, 1st year/ Durban University of Technology

* Emerging designer award: Mercia Beukes, 1st year/ Ekurhuleni Jewellery Project

* Hearing impaired: Jacob Makulwane, 1st year/ Global Jewellery Academy

* Inspired ideas award: Nadine Oehley, 2nd year/ Motheo Tvet College

* Innovation award: Mandisa Nkabinde, 2nd year/ Durban University of Technology

* Excellence award: talented trainers: Lincoln Mokena Ekurhuleni Jewellery Project

* Talented trainers award: Johan Slabbert/ Motheo