We’d like to take a moment to stand still amidst all the #heritage and #braaiday posts and letters and refocus on what the incredible tradition of Heritage Day means to South Africans, and to us.
Heritage Day allows us to honour the rich diversity that is our inheritance. We love being South African, and we love the heritage that has been bestowed on us through that.
It is against this backdrop that we would like to share and showcase the cultural heritage of our business with you. Kim Baker provides a definition for cultural heritage which rings true to us here at Uwe Koetter Jewellers:
It is the ‘cultures, customs, beliefs, rites, rituals, ceremonies, indigenous knowledge, social customs and traditions, arts, crafts, music, political and ideological beliefs that influence culture and behavior, history, practices concerning the natural environment, religious and scientific traditions, language, sports, food and drink, calendars, traditional clothing, cybercultures in the digital world, and emerging new cultures which will become the heritage of the future’.
We concede that it is wordy, yes. But it does emphasize just how broad cultural heritage is and how much of everyday life and choice is influenced by this unseen force. In business circles, Peter Drucker observes that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. As Drucker concludes, “success or failure will ultimately be determined by organizational culture,” and this highlights just how influential culture is.
Invariably, founders play a significant role in organisational culture. Their personal beliefs, customs and rituals all set the tone for this. Mr Koetter, our founder, remains the cornerstone of our culture. However, he stresses that his wife, Magda, played the most significant role in the culture and success of our business in their time here. Mrs Magda Koetter has been described by employees, friends and family as a-larger-than-life figure, an individual with meticulous attention to detail, a penchant for fairness and an eye for style. She also impressed upon the business her right or wrong approach: Something was either exactly right, or it was wrong.
These principles are still applied in our business today.
A bit on our heritage
After recently having fallen in love with Cape Town, Mr Koetter started his business in 1968. The business was made possible based on a trust relationship which after its somewhat unexpected initiation, was nurtured and honoured over many years. The first diamond Mr Koetter sold, was indeed, not his to sell. Mr Cohen, a local diamond dealer had entrusted Mr Koetter with a 0.25 carat diamond, based on good faith and nothing more. Mr Koetter had had a client, but no diamond, and needed to make a plan! Mr Koetter then crafted an engagement ring using the borrowed diamond and paid Mr Cohen back within 2 hours. As promised.
This anecdote imparts something of Uwe Koetter Jewellers’ heritage. In Mr Koetter’s own words, it tells us to “be original, be punctual and be caring”. The very foundation of Uwe Koetter Jewellers was laid on friendship, trust and good work ethic.
On asking Mr Koetter what, in his opinion, are the key principles required to build a business that is more than 50 years old, his response focuses on customers. “Listen, be caring, be welcoming, always be patient and deliver on your promises,” he shares. On asking Mr Koetter whether he has ever said that something cannot be done, an emphatic and resounding “no!” is delivered.
It is the commitment to these principles that has allowed us to be part of the many special journeys of our diverse client base. In listening to what customers envisage and helping them develop incredible ideas, we have been part of their journeys and stories. More often than not, the testament to their bespoke piece starts with only an idea. A vision. And it is these creations which contribute to our rich heritage as a business.
We would like to share some of our creations with you as a celebration of the conversations we have had with our clients over decades of design. In essence, we owe so much of our heritage to our clients and their stories, that it only seems fitting to praise that during Heritage Month.
For us, the story Mr Koetter started is not complete. The book is not closed.
Under the leadership of Mr Johan Louw, we continue to build on our heritage and write new stories every day. As Mrs Koetter’s brother, he continues the legacy established so long ago. Mr Louw is South Africa’s most awarded jewellery designer, and has been entrusted to carry on the legacy and guide the heritage of the Uwe Koetter brand.
We could not be more excited to write the next chapter with him as our leader.
Don’t Create Something Better, Create Something Unique
We are always excited to form part of another story. To realise a new vision. To make another dream a reality. Being part of our clients’ stories means that we are part of their heritage, thus making it a shared one.
Speak to one of our designers today and see how our heritage has built a culture in which we never ask whether it can be done, but rather engage in conversations asking how.
Concluding our newsletter and not paying tribute to Mrs Magda Koetter would not be fair. Mrs Koetter, we cannot thank you enough for the rich heritage you imparted. Your legacy and love live on.
We miss you.