Next Generation: Jess Gouws

This young local jewellery designer tells us about finding beauty in old and discarded objects.

“I live for making wearable art,” says Jess Gouws, founder of Cape Town-based jewellery label Yellow Jewellery. "Being a designer in South Africa, all I can say is that the possibilities are endless," says Gouws.

Not having a formal qualification in jewellery design but a strong love and passion for it, Gouws taught herself how to make necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings using unconventional materials: “I didn’t study jewellery design and wasn’t sure how to work with silver as a material, so I had to make use of objects that are accessible to everyone,” she explains.

Gouws’s one-of-a-kind creations make features out of empty bullet cases and crystals, stripped-off typewriter keys and film negatives. “I source my materials from all over and everywhere – shooting ranges, toy stores and occasional trips to Grahamstown,” says Gouws.

Her “film bottle” necklaces are an extension of her love for film and the science behind it, while her bullet case and crystal creations reference her desire to use art as a means to tackle violence and crime.

"Apart from the selfishly rewarding aspect, I hope my jewellery designs give people something different. It’s the best to see new and refreshing creations on the local jewellery market," says Gouws.

She says that working as a designer has given her opportunities she may otherwise not have had. “Everything good in my life has come from Yellow Jewellery. I’ve met my best friends and travelled for road shows. Everyday is a new learning adventure.”

For now, the young jewellery designer is extending her collections and stocking various creations in local shops including Hello Again, Present Space, I Love My Laundry and Karoo Moon Country Store at the The Old Biscuit Mill.

"I love being a jewellery designer. There is no recipe. My ideas come from somewhere magical and all I can hope is that they keep choosing me."