Nqobile Nkosi is the proud owner of NQ Jewellery Design Services, the first black-owned jewellery manufacturing and retail business in Soweto. The business uses precious stones such as silver, gold, platinum and diamonds to manufacture jewellery.
At the beginning of 2012, Nqobile and UK designer Paul Spurgeon launched the Cornerstone jewellery brand at the United Kingdom (UK) Springfair Jewellery Show. “Our collection was sold in South Africa and the UK. While in the UK, I also went through a two-week internship where I had the opportunity to learn about all aspects of jewellery production,” he explains.
Where it all started
Nqobile’s journey in the jewellery manufacturing industry started in 2007 after he attended an 18-month training course in jewellery manufacturing and design.
“I started the business with the seed capital I made by selling cakes, biscuits and soft drinks on the streets of Soweto. However, because of limited funds and equipment, when the business was established we mainly repaired jewellery and manufactured jewellery on a small scale,” he says.
With the business loan Nqobile acquired from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), he managed to buy additional equipment and material and had money for working capital. “We also received immense assistance and donations from Paul Purgeon Designs and the British jewellery trade members,” Nqobile elaborates. Today, the business has trained and employs four people in their Soweto workshop.
Strength to strength
Over the years, the business has received numerous accolades, such as the Gauteng Business Leader of the Year Award in 2008, the Jet Community Regional and National Award in 2009 and the SAB Kick-Start Award in 2012.
According to Nqobile, the Cornerstone jewellery brand is doing extremely well in the UK market. How- ever, in order to ensure growth in the South African market, he is keen to work with prime South African jewellery retailers.
“Africa has an abundance of natural resources, which have for so long supplied the needs of the worldwide jewellery market. Our aim is to take advantage of these resources by training and employing South Africans from disadvantaged communities so that we can alleviate South Africa’s high unemployment levels,” he concludes.