Cool Spaces: Tinsel Store and Gallery

WORDS Zanele Kumalo PHOTOS Sarah de Pina

Contemporary jewellers Geraldine Fenn and Eric Loubser have reopened their much-loved store and gallery, Tinsel, at Melville’s Bamboo Lifestyle Centre.

One of Joburg’s longtime cool jewellery spots, Tinsel, has returned to the Bamboo Lifestyle Centre in Melville after 14 years – and its latest iteration is larger and even less traditional, perfectly matching the owners’ unconventional spirit, and fitting in with that of the other tenants at this local design hub. You’ll now regularly find Tinsel’s owners – contemporary jewellers Geraldine Fenn and Eric Loubser – at work within this bright, welcoming space, which houses their workshop and a gallery for showcasing their work alongside that of a number of other makers.

Tinsel’s latest incarnation is, unsurprisingly, the antithesis of a white cube: think exposed brick walls and beam ceilings splashed in ochre; desktops and cabinets in washes of blue and sage; and floors painted an oxblood red that Geraldine says is meant to feel like a stoep or veranda. “I want us to do things that have a bit of our personality in them,” she says. Geraldine and Eric are big collectors of South African art and, having moved pieces from their own home into the space, they plan to change things around every couple of months so that there’s always something new to look at in addition to the jewellery. They have also had works commissioned especially for the studio, including a bust by beader Peter Kazowa, who sells his wares outside the Garden Shop nursery in Bolton Road.

They themselves melt and meld metal to shape their exquisite pieces to the sounds of an eclectic playlist of French pop, indie and ’90s rock. Geraldine laughs as she reveals that their close friend and fellow retailer, fashion designer Tiaan Nagel, recently chided them that their playlist needs a bit of “polishing”.

When you’re not browsing pieces by top jewellers such as Amy Sinovich, Ashley Heather and Songezo Baleni – or chatting to Eric and Geraldine about your commission or remodel – there’s a charming balcony on which to hang out and have a coffee. Events to look forward to in the gallery in 2021 include a group exhibition with seven Danish and seven South African jewellers, and potentially a contemporary beadwork show.