Gems of Cape Town: The Glorious Protea

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Petal-inspired 9ct White Gold Pendant set with 0,07ct Trilliant Cut Garnet.

I grew up in Johannesburg. As a child, my only exposure to proteas was a dried bunch gathering dust in a vase on my aunt’s formal dining table.  I couldn’t believe, of all the flowers in South Africa, that we’d chosen the king protea as our national flower. The pressed copper plaque of proteas and springbok, our national animal, on the dining room wall did nothing to dispel my impression that they were undeserving of their status. The British had roses, France the iris. How did we end up with brown spiky proteas?

Fast forward twenty years. I’ve recently moved to Cape Town and I’m hiking Silvermine.  It’s June, the start of the protea’s flowering season. For the first time in my life, I come face to face with the true magnificence of our national flower. The golden roots of the stamen and anthers, their furred silver ends. Delicate pink and silver petals that must have inspired fabric weavers to invent velvet. I am gobsmacked. Awestruck. I can’t believe I’ve spent my entire life ignorant of their exceptional beauty. I am in love.

When to See Proteas in Bloom

Cape Town’s tourist high season is November to March. Proteas bloom during winter and spring, and are in full flower in a multitude of varieties from May to October. This means many visitors to our country get to experience the best of our beaches, but they miss out on the uniquely South African experience of hiking a Table Mountain National Parks trail surrounded by these botanical gems. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Whilst the winter months are our rainy season, there are some sterling sunny days at the end of August and September. Days when the sun is golden, the floral kingdom is in full bloom and the October winds haven’t begun to blow.

From a Botanical Gems to Botanical-Inspired Jewels

If you do break away from the crowds and visit us during the protea’s flowering season, you’ll fall in love. I guarantee it. You’ll want to take them home with you. But they’ll soon go brown. You’ll be left wondering how they could have betrayed your love after you’d lugged a bunch across the globe.

At Afrogem, we’re inspired by our uniquely South African heritage. We look at the protea and see her beauty reflected in pink tourmaline, morganite and garnet. We imagine these stones set into white gold rings, yellow gold earrings or rose gold pendants.  Just because you fall truly madly deeply for an impermanent beauty, doesn’t mean you can’t remember it forever. We can create something special to remind you of a flower on a mountain that you couldn’t help but fall in love with. Something uniquely South African.