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SSouth Africa has plentiful reserves of high-quality gold and diamonds. For hundreds of years, these precious resources have been used in magnificent items of jewellery, coveted the world over. No wonder, then, that South African gold and diamonds are well worth exploring when visiting the country – you could find a one-of-a-kind souvenir with intrinsic as well as sentimental value at any of the country’s jewellery outlets.
South African gold and diamonds, in demand all over the world, have inspired a local jewellery industry worth billions of rands. You’ll find South African jewellery on display throughout the country, as well as housed in local and international museums and collections.
In recent years, major players such as De Beers and AngloGold Ashanti have put considerable effort into the development of the industry, supported by the South African Jewellery Council. Initiatives such as gold jewellery design competitions and investments in gold jewellery manufacturers like Oroafrica are complemented by efforts to train young African designers in jewellery manufacturing.
The industry is primarily based in Gauteng and Western Cape provinces, with some manufacturing also going on around Durban in KwaZulu-Natal and Bloemfontein in Free State. However, you will find retail jewellery outlets in all major centres in every province of South Africa.
Gold jewellery is extremely wearer-friendly, as pure gold doesn’t react with other elements to create tarnish. To get the full effect of this when buying gold jewellery, it is important to understand the system used to describe the percentage of pure gold a piece contains. The higher the carat number, the higher the percentage of gold in the piece – although pure gold (24-carat) is hardly ever used, as it is too soft to be durable; 18-carat or higher is what you should be looking for.
South African diamonds, possibly more coveted even than gold, are also subject to a system of quality assurance. When buying a diamond, always ask to see a copy of its certificate, as this is your only guarantee of the quality and value of that diamond.
Be mindful of the carat weight (which is the actual weight of the diamond), its clarity (as the fewer irregularities or imperfections, the more valuable the diamond is), its colour (because colourless diamonds are the most valuable) and its cut (not shape), which gives a diamond its brilliance and determines the number of facets in it.