Ina Steenkamp

ina

 

 

Ina SteenkampShe is a diamond.

This metaphor very fittingly describes Ina Steenkamp… Diamonds are shaped in the foundry of nature. Extreme heat and pressure turned them into shining orbs, radiating a unique inner beauty.

Ina is a blend of simplicity and sophistication. She spent her formative childhood years in a rural parsonage. As the daughter of the parson she had to adjust to frugal living. But she had a secret, her own, very private little niche. She was her aunt’s favorite niece… and this aunt had a wardrobe with a magic drawer…

Aunt Miemie never married and lived alone. Her dress shop was lucrative and made her an affluent lady. She loved jewellery and had a lot, each piece in a separate box with a velvet lining. All the little boxes with the magic pieces were kept in the magic drawer. Ina was allowed to unlock the drawer and play fantasy games with the pieces. She learnt to love the smooth velvety coolness of pure gold. She was hooked but blissfully unaware of it… She was the parson’s daughter after all.

Little Ina grew up and became Ina the student.  At university a beautiful love story unfolded. History repeated itself. Just like her mother she fell in love with a theology student. Her life was perfect until one fateful day. Her beloved had to leave for Germany for advanced studies. They did what couples always do. They promised to be true to each other. As the airplane grew smaller in the blue distance the lump in her throat grew bigger. The tears flowed… She was a twenty year old girl, madly in love and very lonely…

It was October, purple Jacarandas meant examination time in Pretoria. Luftpost, Par Avion, By Air Mail. The blue envelope with red and dark blue border burned her trembling fingers.

“Please marry me. Germany is empty without you. I’m coming home for Christmas!”
“Dad… Mom… I’m getting married this coming Christmas.”
The parson responded: “Then I better get the garden beautiful in time!”

She passed her second year, left university and married her sweetheart. They left for Germany. Her life was perfect.

In typical Ina fashion she was never idle. She attended History of Art classes and became a specialist in this field. The happy couple lived and spoke German for three years. Then history repeated itself – again…

Her husband accepted a calling. She returned to South Africa as the parson’s wife. She followed in her mother’s footsteps. Back to modesty, back to a life of frugality. The parson and his wife was blessed with three gifted boys. Unfortunately the family budget suffered. Some days frugality hinged on the edge of poverty. In typical Ina fashion she couldn’t be idle – again… She started to burn midnight oil to bake bread. The aroma of lovely, steamy loaves filled the parsonage at three in the morning. At seven the bread was sold. It was hard labour for little money. It helped, but not enough.

Her son was the catalyst. Even at the age of six he did things his way. He summoned his parents for a meeting. In an earnest voice he announced – “I want to learn to play the recorder”. His unwavering gaze silenced them, “no” was not an option. Many years and many friends in Germany came to their rescue. The very next day a friend with a small diamond mine very close to the famous Cullinan mine (where the diamonds that adorn the crown of the British monarch were cut from a single, massive stone) approached her. The friend asked her if she would be interested in marketing the diamonds from his mine, and she agreed.  All her German friends were delighted to have a connection to the shiny, enchanting souvenirs from Africa.

The marketing of diamonds expanded. Other precious and semi-precious stones followed. There was only one nagging imperfection. Ina had to outsource goldsmithing. The settings for her stones did not meet her standards.

In typical Ina fashion she solved the problem. She became a goldsmith. She created her own magic drawer. She experienced the smooth velvety coolness of pure gold every day. She refused to make jewellery…

She created works of art.

And thus Auri was born…