A new local designer jewellery line is recreating South Africa’s past into fashionable statement pieces. The Legacy Collection creates jewellery from the rusted prison fence on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and many other political activists were captive during apartheid.
We caught up with jewellery designer Charmaine Taylor, the brains behind the Legacy Collection, to chat forgiveness and peace, giving back and inspiration.
It’s said that the Legacy Collection jewellery should remind us of our past tragedies but also the ideals – like forgiveness and peace – we’ve built since overcoming those hard times. What do forgiveness and peace mean to you?
Yes, Legacy Collection is a symbol of the past in bearing the rusted scars and deterioration, but when the past is covered with love and grace you can transform it into something beautiful and strong once again. Forgiveness and peace to me means that I have the choice to release the past hurt and move forward into a future filled with freedom.
You created each piece of jewellery from the first Legacy Collection, which keeps growing. What has been the best part of the journey so far?
Can I choose two? The best part of my journey thus far is seeing each piece go through the lengthy hand-made process (sometimes taking eight weeks) and when they come out the other side after being cut, welded and finally formed in silver or gold. I love how they all turn out differently. I can remember each piece I have done thus far due to their unique shape and texture.
I love how each person reacts differently to the unique character and texture of the jewellery, and also the names I gave the pieces, such as Justice, Liberty, Freewill, Grace and Rights.
It must be hard to choose, especially with the jewellery having such strong names, but which is your personal favourite piece from the Legacy Collection?
Wow, yes it is very hard to choose as I call them all my little children. I don’t have a favourite, but if I absolutely must choose it’s the Release and Freewill pendants, as they get the most reactions when I wear them out and about.
A percentage of the Legacy Collection profits gets donated to the Nelson Mandela Foundation as well as Abalimi Bezekhaya (which translates to ‘We are the Farmers’). What made you choose Abalimi Bezekhaya to support?
My company ethos is to give back through my profits to sustainable employment projects, mainly to creating skills. I am also very passionate about organic farming and when I found Abalimi Bezekhaya and visited them in their gardens and distribution points I knew this was the place I wanted to invest into. This year I am also looking to give to jewellery development at CPUT (Cape Peninsular University of Technology).
A new range in the Legacy Collection will be launching this July on Nelson Mandela Day. Would you let us in on what your inspiration for creating this range was?
My main inspiration of the new collection is to now show more of the rusted raw pieces of the fence, calling this range ‘Inspired Freedom’. I do not want to reveal too much more as it will be launched in July. Keep watching my Instagram and Twitter for sneak peaks of what we get up to for the next range. Or watch the hashtag #InspiredFreedom