You can only get to know a country by meeting its locals.
May I introduce you to Neil, a local from South Africa.
An artisan with precision
I first met Neil at Yours Truly, the bar that is next door to the hostel ‘Once in Cape Town’ I work for. We had been greeting each other for over 6 month and I didn’t have a clue then what it is he did for a living. It was by accident that I found out that he is a great Goldsmith. Funny, it was also by accident that Neil came to realise that jewellery was an amazing passion of his after taking part in a friend’s workshop 15 years ago. Neil, 35 years old, was born and raised in Johannesburg. His last 2 years of school were spent at the National School of Art in Johannesburg. Part of his curriculum there was painting, drawing, sculptures and jewellery too. That entire time at NSA, jewellery was just another subject for Neil. What made him eventually fall in love with jewellery was his friend’s workshop. At the age of 19 that´s when he got serious about becoming a goldsmith and that´s when he started a 4 year apprenticeship.
Travel, experience and learn
Besides jewellery Neil has a second passion – skateboarding. He has been a skateboarder for over 20 years now. After Neil finished his apprenticeship he started traveling and went to different places for skateboard shootings and video clips. He has lived in Barcelona, Amsterdam, Brighton and London for a total of 5 years. While he was traveling and staying abroad he was working for different, and big, jewellery companies in Europe and gained more and more experience in making awesome jewellery.
To be creative is to be unique
Neil came back to South Africa 5 years ago. The initial plan was to only come back for his sister’s wedding. That didn’t really work out. Neil got stuck into South Africa and eventually moved to Cape Town. While he was working for different companies in Cape Town, Neil realised that it was time to come up with a new plan. He was tired of someone telling him what kind of jewellery to make. He wanted to let his creativity flow and he wanted to do his own unique stuff. Setting up his own company 2 years ago was the right way to achieve that.
It is not just jewellery. Neil is creating a personal experience
Neil’s business card has Lee “Scratch” Perry, a music producer and inventor from Jamaica on it. Next to him you can see a guy putting down the needle of a record player on a record with precision. “That’s how I work”, he says. The jewellery Neil makes is amazing. He has a passion for the antique and Victorian style. Every piece is unique. His favourite metal to work with is platinum and his favourite stone is sapphire. At his studio in Kloof Street, Neil creates a personal experience for his clients completing every step of manufacturing by himself. His dream is to employ people one day. What he also wants to do is to give workshops. I am pretty sure Neil is the right person to make more people fall in love with his handcraft – much like his friend made him fall in love with it 15 years ago.
Are you interested in his work? Find his contacts here: instagram: @nhjewelery
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