About Our Employees
The central focus in our creative process is maintaining dignified, robust and honest relationships within our team. We believe that when the foundation of our business is strong, the pieces we make will be all the more beautiful. For this reason, we do not share personal information about our staff here. At Beloved, we honour the intricate, careful, intellectually demanding work that our colleagues do. This work, and the love of it, is what we share with each other and with our customers. Aside from that commonality, we are a diverse group of individuals with different life histories, passions, struggles and joys.
Here on our website, we will share the histories of our various pieces. How ideas came to fruition, the beautiful things that inspire us, the music we listen to in our studio, the social environment we work in, and occasional personal reflections by Beloved's chief designer, Anna.
If you would like to know more about our employment policies and ethics, please contact us.
About Our Materials
It often comes as a surprise to people that glass seed beads are not, and never have been manufactured in South Africa. They have been traded for many hundreds of years, and are deeply symbolic of South Africa's global interconnectedness. The routes by which they have come to South Africa, and the ways they are used are unique and distinctive.
The beads used in Beloved pieces come from Japan, specifically the Miyuki and Toho factories in Hiroshima. These are the best quality seed beads available. They are made of glass, often suffused with colour, or lined or coated with precious metals. The beads with a metallic look are coated with a lacquer referred to as 'Duracoat' by Miyuki, and 'Permanent Finish' by Toho. This significantly lengthens the life span of these beads' deep colours.
Our pieces are constructed using a needle and thread, and some beautiful algorithms. The thread is made of nylon. We always use either Nymo, which as originally designed for making shoes and tents (so it's pretty strong), or Fireline, which was designed for very heavy fishing, but which was recently hijacked by enterprising beaders! Both are made in the USA. Occasionally we thread individual pieces of beadwork together using nylon coated stainless steel wire.
With the exception of some very tiny components (crimps) which need to be made of alloyed metals for strength, the metal in our work is either sterling silver, or gold filled. If you have any concerns about metal allergies, please contact us.
About Ethical Sourcing
We feel very confident about the conditions under which our beads and thread are made, as both come from countries with adequate labour legislation and enforcement.
Our current concerns, however, are around the mining and manufacturing conditions of the metals we use. In order to get the perfect chains, clasps and hooks for our pieces, we end up sourcing from many factories all over the world through a multitude of third parties. This does not allow us adequate oversight of working conditions, so we are busy exploring alternative options at present.
About Our Designs
Most of the algorithms we use are not unique to us. Our 'thousands hills' piece, for example, is a very popular shape amongst such beading stars as Laura McCabe and Kate McKinnon. Likewise our 'twelve apostles' design is based on a method popularised by Jean Power and Diane Fitzgerald. Both of these pieces use a weaving method called one bead netting, widely attributed to Native American beaders who lived many centuries ago, whose names we sadly do not know. Our Fibonacci pieces use a sequence described by, well, Fibonacci in 1202, and invented by nature many, many, many millennia ago. You might also know this pattern as The Golden Ratio. These pieces use a stitch attributed to women labelled by outsiders as 'Xhosa', many centuries ago. Not surprisingly, we don't know their names either. (You may be spotting a pattern here.)
Like many forms of creative practice, our work draws on knowledge developed by our predecessors and contemporaries. That said, our work is still unique to us. What sets us apart is our careful use of colour, rhythm and pattern, our clever ways of attaching beadwork to chain, hooks and clasps, and the very high quality of our work.
Caring For Your Beadwork
Of course, once you have bought it, our Beloved piece is entirely yours, and you are free to do with it as you wish. The following are merely a few suggestions for keeping your Beloved intact and shiny.
Last on, first off. In other words, get dressed before you put your jewellery on, and take it off before you undress. This prevents accidental breakage. If you love your Beloved so much that you want to wear it as you sleep, we can't argue with that.
Treat it like silk. Try not to get your beadwork wet, and avoid contact with chemicals, including perfumes.
Try not to touch it too much. This is the most difficult care instruction of all. Beadwork is just so beautifully tactile. Personally I fiddle with my Beloved jewellery all the time, so I'm not one to judge!