Shining Light Awards

The Shining Light Awards (SLA) were first launched in 1996 in South Africa to provide support for the future of the South African jewellery industry by helping to develop technical and design skills of South African designers, as well as an ethos for South African jewellery design. 

The competition was extended to Namibia and Botswana in 2007, but was only launched in Namibia in 2008 to establish a platform for creating opportunities for further value addition activities in the Namibian diamond industry. Through the Shining Light Awards competition, the NDTC has pioneered the way for Sightholders, the sponsors of the collection pieces, local manufacturers and designers to collaborate in producing innovative and progressive jewellery design work.

The inaugural competition was a great success with over 60 original design entries of which five (5) where chosen as the finalists and manufactured in partnership with NDTC Sightholders as the sponsors. Andre Canto was announced as overall winner of 2008/09 edition at a glittering event in February 2009.

The second NDTC SLA competition (2010/12) was officially launched in November 2009 with over 87 entries received. Various information sessions on the competition were held at different institutions in Windhoek and across a number of towns in Namibia such as Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb and Ongwediva.

A team of independent judges, both international and local, chose 10 designs as the finalists. These designs were manufactured into jewellery pieces once again in partnership with NDTC Sightholders as sponsors for the pieces. Richard-Lee Shoombe, a student at the Arts Performance Centre (APC) in Tsumeb won the overall prize for his design at a red carpet event in Windhoek on 17 February 2011.

The current competition has attracted a record entry of 103 designs of which six (6) made it as the finalists.

The Competition Process

The SLA competition runs over a two-year period. In the first year, the competition begins with the launch of a theme. The theme guides designers in their creations as they interpret and express their understanding of the theme and how it can be applied in the design.

The SLA team then holds theme presentations to potential designers to explain the competition guidelines and what is expected of them.

Once the presentations are complete, a design workshop is arranged where designers are introduced to the processes of the competition which include presentations by various speakers on the following topics:

  • The fashion industry,
  • Entrepreneurship
  • The recovery of rough diamonds
  • The sorting of rough diamonds
  • The pricing and selling of rough diamonds
  • The marketing of polished diamonds and the retail side of the diamond jewellery business and lastly the manufacturing of jewellery.

After all these information sessions, designers are then requested to send in their designs. The designs are received and put through a preliminary judging process from which a certain number of designs are selected for manufacture into jewellery.

The selected designs are presented to NDTC Sightholders who offer to sponsor the manufacturing of the design pieces. When all the pieces have been allocated a sponsor, sponsors are then given a few months to manufacture the diamond jewellery pieces, a process which involves the designers as well.

Upon completion of the manufacturing process, the diamond jewellery pieces are handed over to the NDTC. The jewellery pieces are then taken through the final judging process, after which they travel to South Africa for the Southern African SLA catalogue photo-shoot with models.

Namibian pieces join jewellery pieces from South Africa and Botswana (which together form part of the Southern African collection) and travel to various fashion shows and glittering events across Southern Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The SLA catalogue travels with the pieces wherever they go.

Official launch of the Namibian collection and the Shining Light Awards

At the beginning of the second year of the competition, the Namibian diamond jewellery pieces return home for an official launch event where the overall winner is also announced. At the same event, a designated art school or educational institution receives an educational grant towards the development of that institution’s art department, to encourage more students to take up jewellery design. To date, the Katutura Community Arts Centre has received N$ 20 000 and the Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre, a grant worth N$ 30 000 which went towards the purchase of materials for the centre.

Due to their popularity, the pieces are regularly booked by various shows and institutions from all over the world including the Miss Namibia pageant, therefore, the pieces continue on their journey across the globe until the end of the year when the next edition of the SLA is announced.

In an effort to diversify the SLA, NDTC introduced the inaugural NDTC Shining Light Awards Model Search on the 27th June 2012. The model search aims to provide a unique opportunity for Namibian women from across the country to take part in a first of its kind model search and showcase their talents.

The Model Search prompted 160 young Namibian ladies to come for casting. Four models were selected out of this group and will feature in the 2012/13 catalogue and all the SLA promotional material for the current edition of the competition. The four models will travel to South Africa for shoots with the jewellery pieces at the beginning of this year’s spring.