Geraldine Fenn and Eric Loubser's exquisitely curated jewellery gallery Tinsel showcases unique contemporary pieces as well as locally-made work by other South African top designers. Fenn and Loubser are champions of contemporary jewellery design in South Africa, and their store and studio at Bamboo in Melville (opened August 2020) is an exquisite showcase of the art and craftsmanship of jewellery making.
Tinsel puts contemporary jewellery in its rightful place as a recognised art form. As Eric Loubser puts it "jewellery is just like little artworks you get to carry with you all the time".
The pieces you will find here are not mass-produced, cheaply-made high street designs and neither are they flashy status symbols. Each piece is unique, with a story to tell and hopefully, a connection to make with its buyer.
Acclaimed jewellery makers, in this Melville studio and gallery Fenn and Loubser do everything by hand, from the intricate carving of tiny pieces of wafer-thin metal to the painstaking work of adding tiny individual stones to a ring. They have a miniature kiln for working with ceramic items and a hand-sized smelter for the melting and reforming of pieces of metal into tiny ingots, which are then rolled out and reshaped to become jewellery. In their small studio, skills honed over centuries (and possibly even millenia), find their contemporary expression in distinctive pieces that are entirely unique.
The Tinsel gallery has moved location various times over the years, from Melville to Parkhurst and later to a remodelled suburban home near Northcliff. In winter 2020 the pair moved again to Melville, just a few doors away from where they first started in the Bamboo Centre. The move to Melville is not only an opportunity to become more hands-on in their gallery, but also to join a community of other established makers and creators, and the shoppers who love them.
The front of the space is home to the small Tinsel gallery and at the back is the workshop. Contemporary jewellery by more than a dozen different local designers is carefully displayed in colourful drawers. One of the delights of the store sharing space with the studio workshop is that the couple are always on-site to talk you through what's on display.
From the provenance of the metals used, to the inspirations behind the designs, Fenn and Loubser possess an incredible depth of knowledge about the art of making jewellery and about the work of the artists they represent. To be talked through the collection on sale is akin to being taken on a tour of an gallery by its curator.
Everything you will find on sale is one-of-a-kind and hand made, although there is still a very wide range of price points. Just as in a gallery where you could buy a range of art at different values, starting from a print to a painting, here there are unique, beautiful and affordable pieces on sale as well as some very special designs, crafted over days, whose higher price tag reflects the artistry and effort required to create it.
If you have something specific in mind Tinsel also specialise in creating custom-designs and can help you remodel an existing piece from your collection.