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Rising Stars 2013: Jeanine Benjamin


Jeanine Benjamin creates her unique pieces under her own Jinn label. Describe yourself in one sentence. To answer this I will use my Twitter bio: ‘I am a scientist, just like Da Vinci’. What this means is, although I am an artist, and an art, fashion and jewellery lover, at heart everything still relates back to science and the fundamentals learnt in my technical background. What made you decide to be a jewellery designer? I’ve always loved jewellery, and started out with beadwork pieces back in 2003, after never finding pieces that were done exactly as I wanted them. There was always something missing or a design decision I didn’t like. This morphed organically over the years to the point it is at now, which is fine jewellery that's chic and classic, yet trendy. What is your background? I have a technical background from high school, covering sciences, maths, technical drawing and fitting and turning. I have an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCT. I did some jewellery manufacture classes on Tuesday evenings at Ruth Prowse School of Art, and last year I completed a course at UCT Graduate School of Business called Business Acumen for Artists. What inspires you? My experiences growing up influences my work, as can be seen in the Aluta Ring. The description of the inspiration behind this ring can be read off my site or blog. Also, in terms of experiences, as well as the jewellery I saw around me. I am also inspired by the fundamental shapes behind objects. This can be seen in the design of the Cocktail Ring and Chevron Necklace. What are you most proud of so far, career-wise? Being able to hold my own next to trained and qualified jewellers at the Design Indaba Expo in March 2013. I started preparing on 10 January. For someone who is largely self taught, exhibiting alongside jewellers with degrees and experience in creating and presenting their work, to nail the presentation of the product, marketing, brand identity and producing a full range presented at the Indaba whilst still working full-time as an engineer was an achievement that surpassed my hopes. What are you working on now – and what's next for you? I am currently working on some commissions, including a ring for acclaimed South African sculptor Nandipha Mntambo. In terms of what's next... I am applying to various international MBA programs that specialise in luxury goods. My dream is to build a South African luxury brand that will add value to our country. For more information about Jeanine’s jewellery, visit jinn.co.za. Compiled by Leigh Robertson