Hombisa is an isiXhosa word meaning – to make beautiful.
To me, making something beautiful means to subtract the obvious and add the meaningful.

Once, while I was out walking in the fynbos, a type of vegetation found only on the southern tip of Africa, a sunbird landed on the pinks and greens of a protea bush just ahead of me. Balanced there, its iridescent plumage was a flare of promise against the salt blue sky. At that moment, the bird encapsulated everything around it, before it and ahead of it, and filled me with awe for what is true and beautiful.

At Hombisa, I seek to create jewellery, that like the sunbird, stops you in your tracks, speaks honestly of what it is, and sparks a sense of transcendence. As a master goldsmith, I practice my trade through a life-long apprenticeship of curiosity, experimentation, determination, and submersion in the natural world. Over the last twenty years, I’ve developed a style best described as a combination of African vitality and Scandinavian integrity. A style rooted in the place I call home—South Africa.

Perched on the edge of the Cape Peninsula, my home looks out over the ocean and my back door opens onto the tail end of Table Mountain. My studio is in Stellenbosch, a historic town flanked by a river, vineyards, and a half-moon of mountains.

Whether at home or work, I am surrounded by the riches of people and place; colour, space, movement, spirit, texture, and form. This is the palette I draw from—using wood, bone, silver, gold, amber, and gems—to make beautiful items of adornment.



How is it design can speak
of who one is,
of what makes us
of what one has together with another?

Eyes shut
I glimpse the answer –
simple, clean, a sparkle of colour perhaps.
And then the image is gone.

Remember how it is
to fall in love with somebody?
To hear the footfall of your own shy heart,
feel the ripple of your breath,
glimpse love’s reflection in a look cast your way?

How do I
capture that moment,
that spirit?
How do I hold it
in the palm of my hand?

Eyes shut
I can picture it –
simple, clean, a sparkle of colour perhaps.
This time it endures.


Milky Way Technique

It arches overhead: Silver River, Snake of the Night, Fire Stream, Winter Street, Path of Birds. Enraptured by the stars, cultures everywhere have named it and tried to explain it, first through stories and later through science. Regardless of what is known about the Milky Way today, it continues to bedazzle and belittle, reminding me of how vast the universe, how insignificant the individual.

I’d love to tell you that my first Milky Way piece was inspired by an incredible night spent under the stars, on a remote beach or mountain slope somewhere – but the true backstory is far more mundane. Far from being starstruck, I was down to the bone. All I had left to work with was on my workbench: some pieces of wild olive wood and a length of silver wire.

It is true: Inspiration is out there, but it has to find you working.

So it was with what is now my signature technique. Drill, fill, polish. Drill, fill, polish. Hours later I held a rough disc of dark wood stippled with pinpricks of silver … it was just a start, but already I could see the glimmer of the Milky Way.

Using exotic or African hardwood and precious metal, the Milky Way technique is simple, but its result is as mesmerising as the galaxy it’s named for. What began with a single pendant now finds expression in a range of earrings, bangles, rings, and once even my take on a Fabergé Egg.