The designer discusses the African jewellery project.

Paul Spurgeon was named a Tresor Paris Trendsetter in this year’s Professional Jeweller Hot 100. He outlines what he has been up to this past year, working on his Cornerstone jewellery manufacturing program in Africa.

By Paul Spurgeon


"One of the highlights of the year was the day I heard that water was now being provided to the community of Makapanstad near Pretoria, South Africa, where we had drilled unsuccessfully last year.

"This will be the venue for Cornerstone’s second jewellery training and manufacturing facility, the first being in Soweto. There have been too many wonderful events verging on miraculous to mention this past year. Cornerstone has become for me more a vocation than an occupation.

"It was during my visit to South Africa where I was invited to work with students and SMEs that I met my now partner in Cornerstone, Nqobile Nkosi. I saw great potential in him on many levels, and he has proved me right on all accounts.

"The challenges for us and Cornerstone are many and varied. Nqobile and I often refer to the the partners in this project: God, Nqobile and myself, and it is in the former that we are both sustained and provided for. My personal commitment to Cornerstone is based on my desire to help provide skills and jobs to a people that have so often been marginalized and forgotten, in a continent that that has given us in the trade all the raw materials needed.

"This collaboration has witnessed a huge amount of support from the UK trade which has opened a channel that will provide a sustainable partnership well into the future. The importance of partnerships for development is becoming more and more evident. We know of many partnerships in Africa that work and change people’s lives, and we hope and pray that Cornerstone will be one of them.

"But not enough of them are replicated or brought to scale. My inspiration for both Paul Spurgeon Design and Cornerstone in terms of design are now being fuelled and driven by my experiences in Soweto, the people, the colour, the vibrancy and their enormous spirit for life.

"Someone said that we don’t know what we’ve been missing until it arrives. Well, it has arrived and I’m feeding off it. My work-life balance in many ways are one and the same, with very little clear water between them. Our plans for both Paul Spurgeon Design and Cornerstone are more of the same in the coming year.

"We move into 2013 confident that PSD will benefit from Cornerstone and Cornerstone will benefit from PSD. Success is never just an individual effort. As the wise African saying tells us: ‘If you want to get somewhere fast, go alone. But if you want to get far, go together’."