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 Shining Light Awards (SLA) competition is held every two years through a collaboration between De Beers Group and Forevermark and focuses on creating an enabling environment for growth, skills transfer, entrepreneurship, global experiences and mentorship in the jewellery design sector for young aspiring jewellery designers.
On the 30th of March 2021, NDTC hosted a successful Shining Light Award 2020/2021 Stakeholder Engagement in Windhoek to further entice, encourage and brief young designers on the opportunity.
The Namibian lecturer, Mr. Kim Modise from the Namibian College of Arts who attended the stakeholder engagement describes his support with conceptualizing and technical execution mentorship of the design process as rewarding, because he gets the opportunity to both identify and nurture young emerging talent in Namibia. He feels excited about the potential of design students, who were some of the youths afforded the opportunity by the NDTC – to view a presentation, refer their questions regarding the competitions rules and guidelines to the organisers as well as mingle and network with other students, young designers and industry specialists on the day.
The jewellery design competition is open to students from De Beers Group’s diamond producing partner countries (Botswana, Canada, Namibia, and South Africa) who are between the ages of 18 -35 and who could be currently enrolled in a jewellery design and manufacturing programme, are graduates from one of the related programmes or simply talented freelance designers. From previous competitions, the judges have reiterated that there is no right or wrong interpretation of the theme and that jewellery design, as an art, provides leeway for its diverse application.
The Shining Light Awards (SLA), which have existed in Namibia for 11 years, have evolved over the past few years and have moved away from a jewellery design competition to a youth skills enablement initiative focused on celebrating and capacitating jewellery design talent found in De Beers’ diamond producer countries in a sustainable way by creating opportunities for designers in the diamond producer partner countries through high-level exposure to the retail segment within the diamond value chain.
The Shining Light Awards give the winning entry access to tuition in Milan's Politecnico which has been recognized as the No.1 University in Italy, the 3rd training in Europe and the 5th best in the world for Art and Design, having moved up one place since last year. The level of academic quality which the winner receives, is on par with that which is held as benchmark by The De Beers Group Designers Initiative (DBGDI), which incorporates the Shining Light Awards (SLA).
The 2020/2021 SLA competition was launched on the 1st December 2020 and is open for entries online as of the 31 January 2021 and closed on 30 April 2021. Winners will be announced in November 2021.
Three (3) awardees/winners will be selected from each country.
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 expand on expectations. Previous themes have included:
2016/2017: As a natural consequence to our business, the theme for this year was ‘Protecting Nature’s Beauty’.
2018/2019: The theme ‘Heroines and Heritage’ reflects De Beers Group’s commitment to standing with women and girls around the world.
2020/2021: The new theme for the competition is: ‘The Evolution of Love & Life’.
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
- The recovery of rough diamonds
After a series of information sessions, designers are then requested to submit their designs. The designs are subject to a preliminary judging process from which a set number of designs are selected for manufacture into jewellery.
The selected designs are presented to NDTC Sightholders who offer their sponsorship for the manufacturing of the selected pieces. Once sponsorship has been allocated, sponsors are given time to manufacture the diamond pieces, a process which involves the designers too.
Upon completion of the manufacturing process, the diamond jewellery pieces are handed over to the NDTC. They’re 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.
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.
Each year four models are selected, who travel to South Africa for shoots with the jewellery pieces.