“It was almost by accident that I got into jewellery design…” Philippa states in a Marie Claire Sneak Peak article from 2011. The Durbanite was living in London when she visited Mexico and was introduced to Taxco - a small silver-mining village where she enrolled in a school that taught basic jewellery making skills. The rudimentary finishing and hands on creation ignited the fire that led her to a diploma in Jewellery Design back in Durban and ultimately her own label which she has been running for almost two decades.
”…Mexico is so colourful and expressive, which was inspiring.”
Her Fine Arts background has served her well as a solid creative foundation with which to explore the medium of jewellery design. As a result, her iconic cuffs and other pieces have been featured many times in fashion and design publications around the world (Japanese and Greek Vogue, Wallpaper, Monocle, Elle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and GQ to name a few). Her unique and stylised craftsmanship caught the eye of designers such as Abigail Betz, Malcolm Kluk, Helene Bull and more, with pieces being utilised in high-end fashion shoots, as well as on the catwalk. Not one to make a fuss, Philippa is very casual and modest when talking about the multitude of clippings they have displayed around their studio.
”I just play with things and ideas emerge…”
After starting out renting a bench in a communal studio, Philippa and her long-time compadre in jewellery design Ida Elsje, set up a studio in the heart of Cape Town with mutual friend Greg Katz. The Olive Green Cat (derived from their last names: Olivier, Green, Katz) is where they create and fashion their individual jewellery ranges, as well as their collaboration line Nunc Diamond Jewellery for a host of local and international clients. Her practical yet elegant cuffs are what she calls her speciality and though they are what she has become renowned for, Philippa prides herself on the hand-crafted, bespoke pieces that she is commissioned to do. The artist at heart always begging to be unleashed.
“…the most satisfying part of my job is when a client purchases something from me simply because they have an appreciation for the piece of art I have created.”
Having spent years refining and progressing her craft, Philippa is still as motivated to create beautiful things as she was when she left the tiny Mexican village all those years ago. The fact that her work and label have evolved organically over the years, with a strong focus on creating uniqueness, means her customers and support base have become loyal and proud of both their individual purchases and the name subtly emblazened on each hand-crafted piece. For Philippa, success is not defined by wealth, notoriety or status, but rather the happiness and inspiration that is created from turning raw materials into practical, wearable works of art.
Video made by Lionesses of Africa showcasing The Olive Green Cat. Nov 2014.