Having done previous work for Jack Friedman Jewellers, Johan Nel of Knysna Woodworkers was commissioned to design and craft an extraordinary and special presentation box to showcase the National Gift to the Miss Universe 2017 that was auctioned for charity to a discerning international audience.
The brief was that the box be in the shape of Africa and, if possible, represent the devastating fires of Knysna on 7 June. Howard Fevrier gave Johan certain specifications as to what he wanted, but Johan was also given creative licence to develop it into something totally unique.
"In choosing the wood, there was this one particular piece of Oak that caught my attention, as in how the grain and the cracks in the wood fell into place," says Johan. "The cracks to me represented the fire, and the silver I used in the cracks represents Knysna’s community spirit as it rises from the ashes to rebuild to something even better. It was this piece of a once great tree that was burnt to near coal that I rehabilitated and hand-crafted into the presentation box used to house the National Gift."
“A very sentimental piece of art to me,” was the reaction from Miss Universe, then Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel Peters, a local Garden Route lass from Sedgefield.
What also makes this box so special is that it was from one of the Oak trees planted by Knysna’s school children during Queen Victoria’s Jubilee on 24 May 1887.
National Gift – the Daisies of Africa
The jewellery piece was designed by the Jack Friedman team in collaboration with Demi-Leigh, and contains South African gold and diamonds. It was inspired by the Namaqualand Daisies, one of our country’s natural wonders. This year’s gift represents the best of South African natural resources, including its incredibly talented and creative people.
Such a magnificent piece of jewellery deserved a magnificent presentation box as this.
‘Tata’ is engraved on the solid 18 carat gold surface, which reads “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” A quote by the late Nelson Mandela. This says it all.