How did the Shining Lights Awards begin?

The awards began in 1996 in South Africa; the aim being to provide the country’s diamond design talent a platform to showcase their ability. In 2008 the awards were expanded to include Botswana and Namibia as part of a broader beneficiation strategy.

What is the reason behind the showcase?

We talk diamonds and design with Kagiso Fredericks, acting head of the Diamond Trading Company’s Southern Africa Shining Light Awards

The vision of the Shining Light Awards is to show the world the wealth of design talent that exists in Southern Africa by creating a platform that showcases creative artistry using nature’s most remarkable and finest creation: the diamond. The awards unite this heritage to create an internationally appealing and unique design collection of diamond jewellery.

How has it grown over the years?

The awards have grown exponentially over the years as indicated by the number of entrants. In South Africa we have seen a growth of 55% between 2010 and 2012 – we had 363 entrants in 2010, which grew to an astounding 563 entrants in 2012. Furthermore, the design workshops were expanded to include towns like Kimberley and Rustenburg, where the previous focus has been in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. The growth in entries for Botswana is also phenomenal; from 51 in 2008 to 208 in 2012.  Namibia has also seen a growth in public interest with entries growing from 82 in 2010 to 103 in 2012.

How long are the designers given to work on their pieces?

The designers, together with thesponsor sightholder manufacturer – note from sub: please check this term, have over five months to create the jewellery. However, the creative phase of sketching the jewellery takes over four months. This is a lengthy process in comparison to other industries as it recognises the precious nature of the product we are handling, a gift from nature: the diamond.

Can you tell us a bit more about the model search that complemented this year’s awards?

The introduction of the model search was to expand the awards to involve the broader community by giving the local models the opportunity to take part. The finalists from the model search were flown in to Johannesburg for the catalogue photo shoot, where they had the privilege to work with well-known photographer Gareth Jacobs and make-up artist Natasha Kruger from MAC cosmetics.

One of your business imperatives is “diamond beneficiation”; what does that mean?

Beneficiation by definition is the process where the industry strives to transform the extracted ore from mining into processed material suitable for consumption. Diamond beneficiation, by this definition, entails the process of taking rough diamonds liberated from the kimberlite pipe (diamond bearing ore) and making it available for local cutting and polishing processes with the end product being ready for jewellery. The Shining Lights Awards takes this a step further by introducing diamond jewellery design.

With every award ceremony, an education grant is given – which are some of the institutions that have benefitted from this?

Most recently (2013) grants have been awarded to the Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education in Botswana. In South Africa an educational grant was awarded to Tshwane University of Technology and Gugulethu Design School. In Namibia the grant will be channelled towards establishing a jewellery centre to enhance and promote jewellery manufacturing.