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De Beers’ diamond design awards get rolling for 2024

As diamond-producing countries look to add further local value through downstream beneficiation, De Beers’ Shining Light Awards programme will highlight the most talented youth and give them a foot-up into the jewellery business.

Kagiso Fredericks, Beneficiation Manager at De Beers.

While the global consumer market is flooded with luxury goods, De Beers is challenging entrants to re-define luxury, says the company’s Beneficiation Manager, Kagiso Fredericks.

“For the millennial generation, the Shining Light Awards programme provide an empowering opportunity to define their own sense of luxury through diamond jewellery design,” says Fredericks. “The focus on youth helps to capture emerging creativity and to promote the transformation of the sector.”

The awards programme is seeking submissions from entrants in all four of the countries where De Beers has mining operations: Botswana, Canada, Namibia and South Africa. In each country, there will be a first, second and third prize.

“To encourage entrants, we engage with schools, universities and other institutions who train, support or incubate young jewellery designers,” he explains. “We develop and present a set of criteria which entrants must adhere to, and they have three months to generate and submit designs according to the requirements – with the help of their teachers, lecturers and mentors.”

Fredericks explains that the judging process is independent and highly demanding. The judging panel is selected from experts in the jewellery industry and related fields, and it must score each design submission according to the pre-defined criteria. Each applicant is identified only by a number, so those submitting designs remains anonymous until the first, second and third place in each country is chosen. In the first round of assessments, the top five scores are determined for each country. Further deliberations among the judges then leads to the selection of the best three of the five top scorers.

De Beers Group is calling on young aspiring jewellery designers from their producer countries to enter the 2024 Shining Light Awards.

“The aim of the awards programme is to build the levels of expertise of our winners, as well as support their future directions within the jewellery sector,” he explains. “In past years, therefore, the prizes have included scholarships to leading institutions abroad, as well as internships that help young designers to boost their progress in their chosen directions.”

Through collaboration with its Sightholders, De Beers has also been able to help facilitate the creation and commercialisation of jewellery based on some of the winning designs.

“Our customers remain an integral part of the Shining Light Awards, as sight holders have been important sponsors behind turning designs into actual items of jewellery,” he says.

The awards have also been able to support small jewellery manufacturers and distributors, helping to open doors into the sector and to introduce vibrant new entrants with creative energy. This, he highlights, has been achieved through De Beers’ engagement with important industry stakeholders like the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Regulator, and the South African Diamond Manufacturers Association.

Fredericks concludes that the Shining Light Awards programme also encourages educational institutions who may not already have modern design resources – like computer aided design (CAD) software and courses – to acquire these facilities.

“When these schools commit themselves to join the awards process, this often pushes them to go the extra mile,” he says. “In many cases, they find ways to make these facilities available, and even to offer skills like CAD as a more central aspect of their teaching.”

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