Mitchell Gilbert Messina's mock-ups and sketches in Woodstock are all about aspiration
Shimansky’s Flagship Jewellery Store in Cape Town
Enter the shimmering world of diamonds and tanzanite at Shimansky’s V&A Waterfront-based showroom and workshop
If ever there was a South African success story, it is the tale of Shimansky. What began like many other businesses as a small flea market stall on the Durban beachfront has quickly matured into the sparkling star of the nation’s jewellery industry and the go-to choice for diamond and tanzanite creations that glitter with elegant artistry.
Despite its humble start back at the dawn of Mzansi’s democracy, today, the brand has lavish retail stores in main centres around the country as well as a stately showroom at the V&A Waterfront and its own manufacturing workshop and diamond cutting factory. It’s also not only got the stamp of approval from international celebrities, like Charlize Theron, who wore a Shimansky diamond pendant to the celebratory event for her Monster Oscar win, and Christina Aguilera, who donned a gorgeous pair of chandelier earrings during a performance at a benefit banquet in Johannesburg, but also pushed itself into the limelight time and time again with several pioneering achievements. For one, the house of sparkle is responsible for introducing platinum to the local jewellery world, and founder Yair Shimansky also designed South Africa’s very first internationally patented cut – the scintillating, square My Girl diamond.
But aside from its ability to constantly innovate, what lies at the core of this cutting-edge jeweller’s popularity is the fact that despite its growth, it has managed to retain the sort of passion for its craft and respect for detail you’d expect from an artisanal goldsmith.
As one of the few in the industry who has a diamond dealer’s licence, hands-on owner and designer Yair personally travels to reputable quarries in Kimberley to sift through and select only the finest rough stones, so that these treasured gems go straight from mine to finger. And though the brand does employ some of the latest and most advanced technology to design and shape its dazzling creations, it also puts much emphasis on traditional craftsmanship, so that every piece is a handmade work of perfection.
This personal touch can be observed first-hand at the Shimansky jewellery manufacturing workshop and diamond cutting and polishing factory, both of which are found just adjacent to the showroom at the V&A Waterfront Clock Tower. Through glass windows, visitors can witness the care and expertise that goes into moulding striking engagement rings, breathtaking pendants and rich royal blue tanzanite earrings and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the painstaking process of shining and shaping rough diamonds into fiery, twinkling crystals. Not only does the workshop offer guests the chance to deepen their understanding of the tools and time involved in crafting designer trinkets, but they’re guaranteed to walk away with a greater appreciation for the jewels they plan to purchase.
And for those who do want to buy, or even just browse, there’s no finer place to do so than the stunning on-site showroom, which houses the largest variety of jewellery of all the nationwide Shimansky stores. In this magical, circular space, visitors can peruse a queen’s treasure trove of cases displaying delicate tanzanite bracelets, gleaming yellow diamond neckpieces, dazzling engagement rings in every imaginable shape and size, polished men’s wedding bands and a broad assortment of other shimmering items fit for royalty.
Aside from the ready-to-buy collections, there are also a multitude of loose diamonds and tanzanite drops in various cuts to choose from, and grooms-to-be and other guests can sit down with one of the shop’s qualified consultants and discuss personal, custom-made designs over a glass of local wine or cup of steaming coffee (there’s a sparkly bar in one corner).
Notably, the Clock Tower-based showroom is also the first spot that new ranges and designs are displayed, and as Yair and his team are constantly working on developing cutting-edge creations, you can almost always expect something fresh and exciting here. After all, this celebrated jeweller may already have an extraordinary past, but its success story is far from over.
Tip: The best time to visit the Shimansky showroom and workshop is on a week day between 9am and 4pm as it is then possible to see the jewellery manufacturers and diamond cutters at work. Be sure to ask for the full Shimansky Diamond Experience Tour, which includes a visit to the on-site Cape Town Diamond Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of this enchanting gem, see life-size replicas of the world’s most famous stones and more.
Keen to learn more about Africa’s most famous blue-violet gemstone? Read about the incredibly rare treasure, the tanzanite.
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