Taking Africa to world through unique jewellery

Jewellery designer Koketso Mohlala is so passionate about home that she was inspired to make Africa trend through her
hand-made pieces.
Mohlala birthed her brand Ditsala Designs in 2013 and, to launch Heritage Month, she introduces sterling silver and cubic zirconia pieces to her range today. Mohlala is currently in the UK where she exhibits her range.

From Soshanguve in Pretoria, the 30-year-old earned a MQA(Mining Qualifications Authority) sponsorship at The Atteridgeville Jewellery Projects.

This after she had tried her hand at computer engineering. “I went to the institution in Atteridgeville because I didn’t have money to go to university; I didn’t know about the NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme],”she explains.
“In 2015, I got an MQA and a department of higher education and training scholarship to study in Italy. I now have a European master diploma in goldsmith art, design and gemstone setting.”
Her hand-made and unique jewellery is produced for three different ranges – Fashion Freak said to be inspired by street fashion; Bold Statement Jewellery and Africa is Mine, which she says is completely inspired by people on the continent and its cultures.
The re’s the iconic map of Africa pieces, The Amandla gestured hand pieces, wire carved into beautiful African female faces, afro-haired women and the classic image of a doeked woman elegantly carrying baggage on top of her head, which she calls Mkhozi.

“I was tired of seeing Africans absorbing standards and trends that are set by Europeans. What is the point of multiculturalism if we all become one? Same ethics, same dress, same attitude, same way of thinking, same hair, clothes, and socialisation. Where is the richness in that if Africa looks like Europe?
“Songs we would never hear, histories we would never know, art we would never see. Because instead of protecting our history and share it with the world we are just copying,” she says about making her heritage-inspired art. Mohlala sources materials from suppliers from the rural areas, a decision she says to support the cultural wealth of particular areas. Taking Africa to world through unique jewellery Koketso Mohlala, contributes to African heritage through jewellery. Materials sourced from rural areas

“The name Ditsala means friends. I regard everyone who supports Ditsala as my friend. They ’re not just buying jewellery, they are making my dream a reality, they’re putting bread on our tables. “We use brass mostly. However, we do work with other precious metal like gold and
platinum because some of our international customers don’t mind digging deeper into their pockets.”
Prices range from R200- R1,000 excluding bespoke pieces and crowns, as worn by Mafikizolo’s Nhlanhla Nciza. Last year, she started collaborating with Manziwa Creations.

“Because two minds are better than one. We also outsource some production to Manziwa Creations and other small companies.”

Pieces are sold online, at Pop Ups and at her Soshanguve studio where manufacturing takes place.

By Somaya Stockenstroom

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