SOME WORDS ABOUT ME

I am a jewellery designer,  

manufacturer and shop owner

I grew up in the Jacaranda city a.k.a Pretoria, Gauteng. Where I went on to study Jewellery Design and Manufacture at Tshwane University of Technology in 2008. The Jewellery Department at TUT is one of the best in South Africa. During my 4 year term at TUT we learnt all there is to know about jewellery, the history behind it all as well as the newest techniques and equipment. 

My first year consisted of the basics of jewellery design & manufacture. We started off working in brass & copper. From the second semester onward, we worked primarily in silver. Our second year was a lot more interesting. Jewellery pieces became more intricate and we started manufacturing jewellery items with settings and stones.

Third year was the best year. By then I knew all there was to know about basic jewellery design and manufacture. We learnt how to design jewellery pieces in Rhino CAD and then cut and cast them afterward. We also started working in gold, palladium and oh-my-goodness PLATINUM. I have never quaked in my boots the way I did when I worked with platinum for the first time.

In a nutshell, to melt platinum you have to use hydrogen & oxygen instead of your normal LP gas and oxygen. The difference? Well, a hydrogen flame is twice as loud and hot, you also have to wear special goggles, the heat of the flame and colour of the metal can severely damage your eyes or even blind you.

Platinum melts at roughly 1800ºC whereas silver or gold melts at about 900ºC – 1100ºC. Oh, did I mention you can’t see anything through your goggles until the metal starts to heat up? This was the scariest part for me. But, after you get over the shock of it all and you’ve done it a couple of times you learn the amazing properties of platinum.

Platinum is one of the hardest materials used in jewellery. It also weighs twice as much as silver or gold, but you can make it thinner as it is more durable. Platinum can’t oxidise, which means platinum has the best polishing & shine properties out there.

In my 3rd year we had to enter the annual Plat Africa awards, where we had to design and make a jewellery piece from Platinum. The objective was to show off the properties of platinum and its capability of multiple reflective surfaces. I designed a piece called “A journey to the moon”, I just love using concave domes in jewellery as it always makes me think of the craters on the moon. My design & ring went on to win 3rd prize in the student category.

During my third year, the jewellery department lecturers encouraged all of us to start our own businesses as soon as possible. We were granted permission to bring client work to class where our lecturers would assist us in figuring out the best way to make or repair a certain piece of jewellery.

I learnt a lot from my own client jobs as well as the jobs of other students. Garniche opened its eyes for the first time in 2010.

I completed my Btech with distinction in 2011. My thesis was called; Fusing Fine Silver Granulation Using a Kiln. I have always appreciated antique and ancient jewellery techniques. The art of granulation is my favourite. I was fortunate enough to visit the British museum in 2010, where I was able to view actual gold granulation pieces dated back to 1600 BC up close and personal.

It is amazing to think how they were able to do fine work like that with very primitive techniques and tools. Unfortunately, the ancient technique behind granulation has been lost through the ages. Jewellers have tried to replicate those designs, but we’ve never been able to achieve their level of workmanship.

After completing my Btech, like most postgraduates, I took the first job I could get. Ever since then I have been working full time and manufacturing jewellery after hours. Over time I was able to extend my home based workshop to a fully functional jewellery studio.

I applied for my South African Jeweller’s Permit in 2012 and received it a few months later. This permit allows me to buy precious metals and validates my position in the jewellery community.

Why Jewellery? 

Jewellery manufacture is truly my passion in life. Clients regularly ask me; “Why jewellery?”. My answer is plain and simple, “because jewellery has been important to me from the start”. And by “the start” I don’t mean my adult life, I mean my entire life. My passion for jewellery started way before I can remember. Before primary school, I was always wearing some type of adornment being it jewellery, a belt, my Mom’s high heels or a trendy handbag from the 80’s.

As my independence and personality grew so did my choice in garnish. My mom tried her best to prepare me for primary school saying: “Remember Dear, you can’t wear all your jewellery to school”. It was difficult, but I understood what she meant, not all my jewellery. So, on my first day of school photo, I can be seen sporting a yellow Mickey Mouse watch, two bracelets and a silver ring. I felt very naked that day. For the first year or two, teachers tried their utmost to prohibit me from wearing jewellery. But alas, they gave up eventually. The same applied to High School.

The Story behind Garniche 

Wearing jewellery is a form of expressing who you are as an individual. You can tell a lot about a person by only looking at their choice in jewellery. My philosophy has always been that it doesn’t really matter what clothes you are wearing, because with the right jewellery pieces you can take a plain dress to an elegant evening outfit or even tone it down to a smart casual outfit. 

Hence the name Garniche. Garniche is a portmanteau or linguistic blend word, which consists of the words Garnish; “meaning to decorate, embellish or adorn something” and Niche; “a place or  situation where one fits in and feels comfortable”. Jewellery is the garnish of an outfit, without it you will seem bland and plain, but with it you can add excitement, intrigue and elegance.

WHERE AM I TODAY

Louise,  

today.

I moved to the Eastern Cape in 2015. Life at the coast is way less fast paced and inspiration flows more easily here. My two cats, Achilles & Levi also prefers the coast. Achilles, a black and white tabby cat, was found when he was only a few days old in the middle of a business park in Pretoria. He was bottle fed for the first month of his life. He is a bit of an odd ball. 

Levi, a siamese cross, was abandoned in a closed box in a parking lot in Pretoria with his brothers and sisters. Luckily, a car guard opened the box, found the distressed and hungry kittens and called the local cat shelter. Levi is the daredevil of the family. He regularly surprises me with a dead snake or gecko. Sometimes he even leaves the head to send a message to the others. I sometimes worry about his serial killer tendencies, but I try not to dwell on the subject too long.

Among family and friends I am known as the crazy cat lady. My thoughts and inspiration revolves around my two fur babies.

By now you must have gotten the message that my life basically revolves around jewellery manufacture and cats. There is however something that trumps everything else, that is my love  for God. Like most, even though I grew up in a Christian home, I only really found God as an adult. Sometime you have to fail miserably before you are able to see and experience the truth. I am thankful for the gifts God has given me, jewellery design & manufacture being one of them. My prayer before each day is:

“Dear God, Bless the work of my hands, the ideas of my mind, the strength of my body and the passion of my heart. For all I do, I do for you. Amen.”

Thank you for taking the time get to know me. Check out all the collections in my shop or contact me directly for custom orders.