Namibia's hidden treasure
Meet award-winning jeweller Gudrun Bellwinkel who has spent the last 30 years creating beautiful works of art inspired by her homeland.

 

There’s no questioning the fact that the beauty of Namibia’s landscapes and wildlife can prove inspirational, but, for jeweller Gudrun Bellwinkel, these surroundings have shaped an entire career.


“Namibia is a country without any boundaries,” she says, “and there is always something new to be challenged. I love the blue sky which appears more intensely blue than in other parts of this world. In our rainy season this sky is flocked by fairytale clouds and after the first few drops, nature will present itself at its very best. Everything under our sun one can integrate into new designer pieces manufactured in our workshop.”


Born and raised in Namibia, Gudrun began her creative journey in Windhoek, first as an apprentice in decoration and advertising art, then later as a jeweller apprentice at W Meyer Jewellers. She then served two years at the famous Goldschmiede Akademie in Pforzheim, Germany, to complete her studies. With these qualifications under her belt, on 15th September 1980 Gudrun founded her own business in Swakopmund: African Art Jewellers was born.


Gudrun’s idea was to move beyond the conventional designs and create a new, real Namibian style.


“We use indigenous Namibian materials like bone, feathers, porcupine quills, ostrich eggshells, claws and beads, camelthorn wood, Ekipa buttons and Omba shells worn by the Oshiwambo and Himba, ethnic African beads and tribal objets d’art,” she explains.


Her affinity with the country is further established by the fact that she trains young Namibians in the art of goldsmithing, as well as training local people as specialised, expert sales personnel. To date seven apprentices have been successfully trained at AAJ, in bench and trade.


Inspired and carefully guided by Gudrun, and influenced by the Namibian nature and traditional African culture, her team create unique pieces in the style of African Art Jewellers.  Reflecting on 30 years as a top jeweller, Gudrun says that she feels blessed to have been surrounded by talented, dedicated people in her team throughout her career.


“It is a privilege. My fulfilment would be to successfully pass on this passion to my goldsmiths and apprentices at the bench and the sales department to preserve a free spirit and keep a strong feeling for the traditional flair when creating and presenting jewellery at African Art Jewellers.”

 

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