Ida Elsje is arguably at the forefront of South African contemporary jewellery. Not only is her work regularly featured in South Africa’s top glossy magazines, but high-profile international publications such as Brazil Vogue and New York’s Superior Magazine have also filled their editorial pages with some of her handmade masterpieces. At the same time, her oversized earrings and elaborate head pieces have graced the catwalks of New York and London Fashion Weeks. Every piece of Ida Elsje Jewellery is created in her small studio on Cape Town’s bustling and centrally located Church Street (where her beloved dog Elvis keeps her company on a daily basis).
I spent five minutes talking to this jewellery genius about what inspires her, where she likes to hang out and her tips for aspiring jewelers:
What are your biggest vices? Records, Norwegian and Art Deco furniture and Fire King crockery.
Where does your design inspiration come from? Mostly natural shapes I see on my walks with my dogs, the shapes of flowers and tree tops, the curves of the mountains and pods. I love old and modern buildings and often find inspiration in the structure and detail thereof, such as tiling and railings.
What are your favourite eating/drinking/coffee spots in Cape Town?
There are so many…
- Jason’s for the world’s most addictive croissants;
- Loading Bay for their truffle fries and the best mint tea with a ginger shot on the side;
- Dear Me for fresh and healthy food;
- The Potluck Club for the best views and their popcorn ice cream;
- For coffee, Deluxe Coffee Works, Espresso Lab and &Union (Lindile makes the best cappuccino in town);
- Zucchini’s does a variety of warm homely vegetarian take-away lunches and juices;
- Harbour House in Kalk Bay followed by a drink at Polana;
- Skinny Legs And All makes the best shortbread and pea pasta;
- Maria’s for the great chocolate cake and wonderful dog-friendly owner;
- Kyoto Sushi Garden for Zen vibes;
- And my newest favourite is the Oranjezicht City Farm Organic Market which is open every Saturday morning: go for the fresh veggies, breads, organic compost, juice and great coffee from Tamboerswinkel.
Advice for young aspirational jewelers? Grow your business organically, let the demand for your work determine the growth of your business. Listen to your customers’ dreams and create your own style.
Favourite way to spend a weekend? A weekend away with friends, long walks in nature, cooking together and sitting around long dinner tables and fires talking till the sun comes up.
Favourite city to travel to and why? Srinigar, Kashmir: where heaven meets earth. It is very peaceful and beautiful there, especially when you go into the mountains. I love the jewellery shops there – they are all covered in gold mirrors from wall to ceiling and have counters with chairs. You have to sit down and drink tea with kashmiri biscuits, before they start bringing out the trays of 22ct gold jewellery. I aslo love Berlin and Tel Aviv.
Ida is the head designer for my luxury jewelry brand Paka Paka.
Ida’s own jewellery collation (Ida Elsje Jewellery) is stocked at Olive Green Cat, Church Street, Cape Town, South Africa.
Fashion Photography Stephan Glathe, Styling Michael Cooper, Model Bailey, Hair and Makeup Alba Frei. Product Photography Tim Atkins.