EB Jewellery was founded by Emma Boshoff, British-South African jewellery designer currently based in West Wales. As a child, Emma always had an interest in geology and gemstones, favouring to work with her hands. Realising this correlated perfectly with jewellery making, she pursued a career in jewellery and created her own brand. A qualified Gemologist (FGA) and CAD designer, Emma uses both traditional jewellery techniques and new technology to create her pattern-inspired pieces.
Emma is continually inspired by her bicultural identity. Originally from South Africa and now living in the UK, she fuses her heritage into her designs. EB Jewellery is best known for the Umbala collection, jewellery inspired by Southern Ndebele beadwork. She conferred with a master bead worker, Sophy Nosinkie Mahlangu while producing her Umbala range. Sophy runs the Nomhlekhabo Craft Africa, a Ndebele beadwork co-op, and 5% of sales of each piece of EB Jewellery is donated to it. We chat to Emma about her core brand values, charity work and how her South African heritage inspires her.
How did your brand begin?
I have an entrepreneurial spirit, so I have known for a long time that running my own business is something that I wanted to do. I created my brand as a professional setting that allows me to explore my creative ideas more seriously.
When did you first fall in love with jewellery and knew you wanted to become a designer?
I had a very keen interest in geology and gemstones growing up. I have an artistic background and I really enjoy working with my hands. Jewellery design and manufacture seemed the perfect combination of these interests to me so I pursued it.
Values are really important to us at JewelStreet. What are your core brand values?
The EB Jewellery core values are 'quality, integrity, craftsmanship and innovation'. I believe that a piece should be well produced and innovative in some way, either through its production methods or the concept behind its creation.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
My designs draw on patterns and how these can be abstracted and created. I love the idea that people are out there wearing pieces that at one point were just ideas in my head jotted down on paper. This drives me to produce more.
How is your jewellery made?
I use both traditional jewellery techniques as well as new technology, such as CAD, to create my pieces. I feel that through understanding the benefits and limitations of both, I can find the best way to produce a piece.
Are there any specific manufacturing/crafting techniques you use?
Currently I work a lot with CAD design for CNC milling in wax. This process lends itself well to creating flat, patterned pieces as reflected in my Umbala collection. I also love to work at the bench and could easily pass the day saw piercing.
How do you want someone to feel when they wear your jewellery?
My jewellery is aimed at those who want to stand out and feel themselves. I want people who wear my jewellery to feel that it is an extension of their own individuality. I want people to feel excited about wearing the piece before they put it on.
Do you work with any charities?
I do not currently work with any charities per se, however included in the sales price for my Umbala collection is a 5% donation to a group of bead workers in South Africa, known as Nomhlekhabo Craft Africa.
Do you have any exciting future plans and where do you see your brand in 5 years?
Within 5 years I hope to have expanded my brand and to be selling in both the UK and South Africa. My aim is to benefit at least one South African organisation for every new collection I bring out through promotion or collaboration.
What drew you to JewelStreet?
I was drawn to JewelStreet because they represent an amazing, varied and international group of designers and that is an exciting thing to be a part of. They also showed a keen interest in my work which makes me feel like a valued contribution.
How do you ensure you’ve got a good work/life balance?
I live in the countryside in West Wales. I maintain a good work/life balance by taking regular breaks from work and getting outdoors. I like to garden and often I will use this to get my mind off of work.