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A New Wave of Homegrown Jewelry Houses Offer Distinctly African Luxury to the World

Africa is often seen as the home of precious gemstones and metals, with the world’s leading jewelry houses sourcing a steady stream of diamonds, gold and other minerals from the continent. Sierra Leone-born Briton Satta Matturi, creative director of her namesake fine jewelry house, says that African jewelry designers often have to contend with preconceived notions of what African design is, including colonial stereotypes that see it as primitive. Rosenkrantz Africa makes similarly stunning pieces. Founded by Iver Rosenkrantz, the brand was behind the world’s largest tanzanite and diamond necklace, containing a total of 600 carats of tanzanite and 100 carats of diamonds — a feat that brought with it a flurry of new clients. Although based in Tanzania, Rosenkrantz recently co-founded Zimbaqua, Africa’s first woman-only run mine for aquamarine and tourmaline based in Zimbabwe. In addition to sourcing the gemstones, the miners have been trained in cutting and polishing, which allows them to increase the value of the gemstones themselves. Vania Leles , a Guinea-Bissau native, decided to start her own fine jewelry brand in 2011 after working for Graff, De Beers and Sotheby’s. She was driven by her desire to justly represent where her materials originated, and wanted to forge her own vision.