South African luxury accessories label Okapi has launched its first collection of fine jewellery. Unveiled at an intimate dinner at Mayfair’s Mark’s Club, each jewel in the Karoo collection features a piece of springbok horn, already used by the line to embellish its colourful handbags.
Passed around the dining table like heirloom silver, the gold earrings and pendants in the Okapi Karoo collection offer strong tactility and an earthy elegance that make them perfect to pair with autumn’s deeper colour palette.
With sustainability the buzzword of London Fashion Week, animal horn at first seems anathema to today’s conscientious fashion consumer. Yet Okapi’s jewels claim to be ethically sourced. The springbok, a type of antelope that is South Africa’s national animal, is in no way endangered, and the horn is a byproduct of free-range farming that would otherwise go to waste.
Like all of Okapi’s pieces, the jewellery is handmade in South Africa in collaboration with local artisans in the Karoo, and the company is committed to championing the country’s grassroots craft economy. With a lacquer-like sheen and deep brown-black colouration, the horn lends itself beautifully to adornment, with a look that is organic and bold.
The sangomas, traditional African shamans, utilise springbok horns as a talismanic charm, and appreciate its capacity as a vessel. Wearing multiple hollow horns around their necks, they fill them with sage and healing substances. Taking a cue from this practice, Okapi founder Hanneli Rupert has topped several of her pendants with hinged lids, so that the wearer can fill them with a favourite scent, or whatever else they fancy.
The horns are accented with 18ct gold and strung on a leather cord or gold chain, with prices starting at £2,600. Some are inlaid with gems set in gold collets: a diamond-studded pendant evokes an exotic spotted cat, and a horn set with orange sapphires glints like a safari campfire against the night sky. Further gem options include blue turquoise, cognac and black diamonds, blue topaz and a confetti of mixed gemstones.
Lighter than they look, the horns have the ‘pet me’ draw of the animal about them, and beg to be caressed. They can also do double duty: earrings with invisible-catch hoop closures can take a turn as pendants.
Worn as part of a layered look, the horns play beautifully with yellow gold amulets and chains, leather, wood, and beads. The jewels are also brilliant options for men, the shape and colour offering ample edge to pendants or single earrings.
Named after the zebra-striped relative of the giraffe, Okapi was founded in Cape Town in 2008. The house’s London base is its Belgravia showroom, and each piece in its fine jewellery collection is made to order.