May 11

Award winning gold jewellery and haute couture combine in Cape Town Fashion Event

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Combine gold jewellery by the winners of Gold Virtuosi, the world’s first global jewellery design competition, with a special range of haute couture and you have ingredients for a fashion event of note.

And that is just what AngloGold, a sponsor of Gold Virtuosi, and leading South African fashion designer, Gavin Rajah, will stage at Cape Town’s Canal Walk today.

At this first and only public showing of the Gold Virtuosi collection in this country, the audience will have the opportunity of seeing the work of Renate Kriegler, the Stellenbosch University student, who was one of 30 winners in the competition. Since there were 1 000 entrants – the vast majority professional jewellery designers – from 34 countries, this was a major coup for an amateur. It was also a great honour for South Africa to be among the 11 countries – the others were Bahrain, Brazil, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Turkey – to produce a winner.

Gold Virtuosi was held in 2000 to inspire innovation in gold jewellery design worldwide and the brief to participants was “to create the ultimate gold adornment, enhancing the wearer’s pleasure, vitality, emotion and sensuality”. An international board of judges made the final selection on the basis of originality, creative use of gold, finishes and textures, craftsmanship, appropriateness to today’s lifestyle and dramatic impact.

To show off this elite gold jewellery collection, Gavin Rajah has designed a range of evening wear in Chinese red and in a variety of fabrics – silk, silk satin, georgette, chiffon and beaded tulle. Fluid in line and intricately cut, each garment has been specially created to show the jewellery to best effect. The fashion show heralds the opening of Rajah’s own designer store at Canal Walk.

Commenting on the collaboration with AngloGold, he said: “It’s great that a South African company with global visibility is supporting and nurturing local fashion.”

Undoubtedly, a highlight of the event will be the first viewing of Renate’s jewellery set. Entitled “Thando” it comprises a ring, pendant and bracelet made from 271 grams of 18 carat gold. The matt gold pieces are hollow and strung on a black rubber cord.

To acknowledge Renate’s achievement at Gold Virtuosi, AngloGold commissioned Barry Swan to compose a piece of music to interpret her design. A modern, funky rendition of traditional African sounds, the recording features four baritones from the company’s choir.

Talking about the competition, Renate said: “I had never worked with so much gold before and it was a very luxurious and sensual experience. I encourage gold jewellery designers in South Africa, both professional and amateur, to enter these kinds of contests because they generate publicity for our world-calibre goldsmithing talents and provide the opportunity to work with large quantities of African gold.”

Each entrant was required to submit three sketches featuring a suite of jewellery, which could be made up in 18 carat gold or gold of higher caratage. Different coloured gold and alloys could be used provided that gold remained the ‘hero’ of the piece.

One of the judges of Gold Virtuosi was Vivienne Becker, Jewellery Editor of Harpers & Queen. She commented: “I was stunned by the sheer numbers and variety of designs submitted for the competition and impressed by the overall ingenuity and professionalism of the entries. I was particularly looking for designs that showed a deep appreciation and understanding of the qualities of gold, for jewels that would make the most of the metal, showing it to its best advantage.”

AngloGold is involved in a range of initiatives to stimulate demand for gold. These include the sponsorship of gold jewellery competitions to promote design excellence and to showcase the beauty and possibilities of plain gold jewellery. Gold Virtuosi was one of three such events which the company backed in 2000. The other two were the national gold jewellery competitions held in India (Swarnanjali) and South Africa (Riches of Africa).

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