Passion’s Treasure Hunt: Romancing the Radiant Jewel

A visit to Christoff Jewellery, an Aladdin’s Cave tucked away at the foot of Table Mountain, reveals a glorious selection of gemstone jewellery, chunky gold chains, pearl necklaces, rings and earrings.

By Debbie Hathway
18ct yellow gold double cushion earrings, spectacle set, with citrine quartz and storm blue topaz

Christoff Fine Jewellery is one of the Belmond Mount Nelson crown jewels, trading out of the inner sanctum for 10 years of its 124-year history. It’s fair to say that the prestigious Cape Town boutique is as much an institution in designing and supplying custom-made jewellery to the world as the grand “pink lady” is to travellers seeking a retreat steeped in sophistication and glamour.

The jeweller’s windows sparkle with covetable creations, hinting at a treasure trove of multicoloured gemstones set in 18ct yellow or white gold. Interestingly, you’ll find sought-after tanzanite set in yellow gold because “it looks much sexier”, according to Christoff Jewellery MD Anne Tripp. “I think it’s so pretty, more relaxed and less formal in yellow gold.”

Coloured stones are still prevalent, with the local ones (tanzanite, ruby, garnet, citrine and morganite from Mozambique) among the bestsellers. “People who come shopping for coloured stones recognise quality, so we try to have just the top end of the stone realm here. They often ask for something specific in amethyst, pink sapphire, or yellow sapphire – and because we make everything up ourselves, the yellow gold and coloured stone combination is a big thing. We do a lot of commission work, shipping orders to clients when they are ready,” she says. “The American market is quite conservative, while the Europeans are keener on the bigger, bolder pieces, so that’s quite interesting. Chains we do very well with are our coloured stones by the metre, which we make long enough so that you can wear them as a choker if you want to.”

18ct yellow gold cluster earrings, handmade, set with clifton blue topaz, turquoise and peridot

Tripp loves to travel as far as Tanzania to see her African suppliers if they don’t reach her on home soil first and visits Jaipur in India often. “Jaipur is a major stone-cutting centre. They source, cut and polish to just the quality I want.”

One of her greatest finds this year is “the most wonderful pink morganite. It’s like a museum piece; it’s so huge. It was presented by one of my gemstone suppliers who thought it might interest me. It’s amazing!”

18ct yellow gold double cushion earrings, set with citrine and brandy quartz

Earrings are a Christoff speciality, creating these popular accessories in every design. “We try to keep their weight under about 6g. If they’re heavier, we fit them with a handmade clip, so they sit firmly on the ear,” Tripp explains. A black onyx and diamond collection was particularly eye-catching among the glittering stones. “The combination is an enduring classic. People like it. It’s smart and it’ll never let them down,” she adds.

The same can be said of a jeweller of this stature. “Visitors find our pieces quite good value, mainly because they have only passed through two pairs of hands – the person who makes it and me. Also, we have fun with colour. We love it.”

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