Just jewels

Gorgeous, creative and obsessed with chocolate – clearly! She even named her business after it! We chat to jewellery designer, entrepreneur and supermom, Tanya van Aswegen.

My design style is … personal, modern and romantic!

I’ve designed jewellery for celebs that include … Karlien van Jaarsveld, Suna Roberts, June van Wyk, André Esterhuizen, Francois van Coke’s wife Lauren and Mandi Baard.

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I’m inspired by designers like … Lorraine Swartz, Cartier, Tiffany & Co, and Elegance Jewellers.

The best thing about what I do is … being able to create and express my creativity, sharing it with people and receiving great feedback.

I would love to design something for … Victoria Beckham! She’s uber modern, so I’d be able to design a striking statement piece with a contemporary style. Locally, I would adore creating something for Demi-Leigh Peters. For her, I’d do a very simplistic yet romantic design.

Why jewellery … I come from a family that has been in the industry since 1993. I actually studied for an LLB, but soon after starting with a law firm, I realised it simply wasn’t for me. I joined the family business where I learnt the ropes and discovered my true passion! I established my brand, Chocolate Jewellery, in 2010.

My rookie mistake starting out was … only having one or two suppliers. It makes a big difference in this industry.

The biggest trend – initial necklaces and stacking rings!

Your biggest fear starting out was … failure, for sure! You put everything you have – hopes, dreams and finances – into starting a business. Now I know persistence is the key to success!

How long does it take to make a piece? … It all depends on the piece. A simple ring or pendant takes about seven days. For something with more setting work, it could be 12 to 14 working days.

The biggest trend at the moment? … initial necklaces and stacking rings!

Strange requests you’ve received from clients? … Jewellery is very personal thing, so I didn’t find any of these requests strange, only unique. I’ve been asked to make a portrait of someone’s face on a signet coin ring. Also a knife ring and a pendant with a pet’s cremation ashes inside.

How do you stay up to date with trends? … I follow a lot of international creative designers. If I find some appealing ideas I use them as a platform and then design my own unique pieces.

One of your favourite pieces so far? … The engagement ring I designed for a client in England. They gave me full rein to design what I thought would be beautiful and they absolutely loved it! After sharing the pictures on social media, everybody wanted one.

My jewellery philosophy is … to create high-end jewellery at affordable prices. There is a misconception that high-end jewellery costs an arm and a leg, but it doesn’t have to if you have the right designer. You should pay for what you are getting!

I dream for Chocolate Jewellery to become … a household name in the jewellery industry.

I can be summed up as … a very grateful and honest person. I am always honest, in all aspects – it is something I live by every day.

If you were alone for an entire weekend … I’d spend it watching This is Us in my pj’s. I’m a real home body.

Few people know that … I’m addicted to perfume!

I am insecure about … not being able to always express my emotions.

If not jewellery, I’d probably be an … image consultant. I love fashion – another creative outlet.

Five people you would invite for dinner … Lady Gaga, Emelia Clarke, Lorraine Schwartz, Victoria Beckham and JK Rowling. I’d serve my signature lemon garlic lamb roast with rosemary potatoes.

A place you would love to live … Greece. It’s romantic and beautiful, and I love Greek food!

Your daily schedule is … hectic, but I find planning ahead makes the balance easier. I try to schedule my day to get all my work done before my kids come home from school. My work consists of seeing clients, designing with my Cad design programmes, diamond viewing, meeting with suppliers and of course admin – which I dread!

On motherhood …
I’m the mom of two boys, aged four and six. They keep me very busy, but we also share an amazing bond with each other. They teach me something new every day. I appreciate every dirty mark, half-eaten apple and difficult night, because I know it won’t last forever.
The most challenging aspect of motherhood is balancing a hectic schedule and home time. At times it can be hard getting both under control – thankfully I have a wonderful husband who helps a lot. I have learnt the art of saying ‘No’, which makes a big difference too. I’ve realised I’m only one person with two hands, so I do what I can in the time I have.
The attributes I will always want my children to have are … knowing their self-worth, and honesty.


1. Diamond earrings
2. Classic diamond eternity band
3. Diamond pendant necklace
4. Personalised disc necklace
5. Cocktail ring
6. Stacking rings
7. Simple yet stylish bracelets
Details: Visit chocolatejewellery.co.za.

Text: Chemélle van der Merwe. Photograph: Tyme Photography.

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