Suhaa Schmitz: Bold Jewelry from Africa

Kenyan-born, Rwanda-based jewelry maker Suhaa Schmitz’s designs cross cultural boundaries. What began as a hobby during her first pregnancy in 2007 has led to full-blown life’s mission. Having lived in various countries and continents throughout her life, Suhaa Schmitz—whose work is showcased throughout Preciosa’s SS 2023 innovations campaign—plans to connect African jewelry with the international market. “The phrase ‘African jewelry’ should not scare anyone into thinking that we are just beads and tribal designs but also a modern, bold blend of cultures from many countries of the world,” she says. “My brand is inspired by high fashion and even minimalism.” While it remains difficult to source Rwandan materials, Suhaa endeavors to use as many locally and African-made fabrics, metals and beads as possible, including her favorite hand painted Kazuri beads from her native Kenya made by a cooperative of single mothers. Her unique aesthetic is one that blends these traditional materials with international jewelry staples like Miyuki pearls from Japan and Preciosa crystals from the Czech Republic. “Most of my clientele are middle- and high-class Rwandans who don’t want to wear the same thing as everyone else,” explains Suhaa. “Each piece is a unique balancing act between the traditional African style, which is loud and confident, and more modern, delicate femininity; I try to give each component its own space to breathe and to speak for itself.”