Friday, March 30, 2012


Baroque Bead Bracelets
The Phinda Game Reserve, located in KwaZula-Natal, South Africa has been a fixture in the country for two decades.  Visitors can reside at one of several lodges: the Rock Lodge, the Mountain Lodge or The Vlei Lodge. 

Here visitors can take in some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes including the Lebombo Mountains.  South Africa is the current home of Mijou Beller.

I like the bold, daring style of chunky gemstone or crystal jewelry.  Granted, this is a rather intimidating aesthetic particularly the wildly complex pieces of Tom Binns (Ireland) and Justin Giunta (USA).   

For designers like Giunta and Binns simple elegance is not their objective; there is a clear sense of anti-establishment that I like.  In general, there is toughness and grit to this style that I feel only someone with a hefty level of aplomb can carry off.

Beller’s thirteen-year-old jewelry brand entitled  . . . & Banana  (which Beller recently changed from Dolce & Banana due to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana) is also an exploration of multiple, complementary elements configured in baroque, exotic and vibrant arrangements. 

Unlike Binns and Guinta, I think Beller’s design approach is less anarchistic panache and more refined glamour with high-fashion elasticized cuff bracelets, gemstone necklaces, and bead bracelets.

Originally from France, Beller works closely with a team of South African women who implement wooden beads, horn, shells, raffia, leather, glass beads, pearls, agate and mother-of-pearl within outlines of French knitted and crocheted fabric.

“We produce handmade jewelry that is colorful, exotic, stylish and occasionally over-the-top but we never use gold or diamonds,” says Beller.  “I design beautiful things to inspire and be inspired; to make people smile and create a decent and enjoyable living for us all.”
Blue Agate, Shell and Glass Bead
Couture Choker Necklace
Beller also masterminds her whimsical-themed home décor company, Ethno Bongo, by using palm fronds, driftwood, wine barrels, and reclaimed wood.

“We make funky birds, penguins, and ostriches made from leaves, calabashes and feathers.

We make mirrors, candle holders, bottle racks, clocks and ceramic sculptures inspired by the seaside. The creativity is endless.”
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