IN: Inspiration

Q&A with Jewellery runner-up, Aleks Ashton

What started as a hobby has not only led to a career in jewellery design but now, has also won her a PPC Imaginarium Award. This is Aleks Ashton’s story.


1. What was your reaction when you heard them announce you as the runner-up of the Jewellery category?

I was and still am delighted and a bit awestruck.

PPC Imaginarium


2. Tell us a bit about yourself. What did you study?

I am the owner and enthusiastic designer of Night Shine Candy Accessories. I have a master’s in Research Psychology and I used to do monitoring and evaluation research for NGOs and corporates. I particularly loved working on mental health and education projects, but deep inside I knew that this wasn’t the right path for me.


Eventually, I realised that a huge part of my wellbeing was dependent on being regularly and actively creative and exploring art and design. It occurred to me that the best way to fulfil this passion was to make sure that it was a significant part of my career.


In late 2014 I explored my love for jewellery design and have been working to grow it from a beloved hobby into a profession. I still have much to do to get the business up and running, but I have no regrets.


3. What made you enter the competition?

The support and encouragement from two very important men in my life; my fantastic teacher Marchand van Tonder at Liz Loubser Jewellery School and my magnificent husband, Kevin Ashton.


4. What was your experience of the competition?

It was an overwhelming and valuable learning experience. I started making jewellery as a hobby 20 years ago, but I have less than three years of silversmithing under my belt. I have not attempted something as complex as the Cyberglyph Necklace before, and it was a daunting task.


I am now using the techniques I learnt during that process to design and create a collection called Brooches of Curiosity. I have always liked the idea of using unusual materials that are not conventionally associated with fine jewellery, alongside traditional precious metals and gems.


Using concrete has inspired me to include this medium in my work. I was very nervous about this before, but I have gained a good deal of confidence from my experience with the PPC Imaginarium Awards.


5. What inspired your concept?

The concept came from my father and husband. My husband is a greatly talented software programmer and I wanted to do something that would show my respect and appreciation for his craft. My father is a retired civil engineer who specialised in concrete foundations for large-scale construction. Working with the material was a way I could pay homage to his craft as well.


6. Where to next now that you have won an award from the PPC Imaginarium Awards?

I am working to get my online jewellery business, Night Shine Candy, up and running by August this year. I also want to enter some more competitions.


7. What insights or advice do you have for those entering the 2018 awards?

Start early. Play, experiment and make a mess. Ask for advice from the folks at Cemcrete.


8. What would you like to see more of in the art and design sector of South Africa?

I can’t judge the sector as a whole because I am relatively new to it. I can promote what I felt played a significant role in my success: collaboration and mutual empowerment between designers. The students at my school really rejoice in another student’s success. The support I got from my teacher and my fellow students, including two other PPC Imaginarium finalists, Pricilla Brown and Rella Venter, was vital in helping me to overcome my doubts and insecurities. I felt as if we were counterparts in a great design adventure. I hope that other designers out there are as fortunate as I am to have such talented and heartfelt peers.


9. Should anyone want to view or purchase your designs, how can they contact you?

I can be contacted via my Facebook page @Night Shine Candy Accessories. The Night Shine Candy website is currently under construction, but you can sign up for the newsletter to get news of the website’s official launch. I can also be contacted via email at



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