Dear Rae Jewellery

Q & A with Karin Matthee from Dear Rae Jewellery

Born and bred Capetonian, Karin Rae Matthee, is the brains (and beauty) behind Dear Rae – a sought after jewellery range that epitomises everyday elegance and versatility. After completing her studies at Stellenbosch University and Pforzheim Hochschule in Germany, Karin returned to sunny SA to start Dear Rae. In only six years, the Dear Rae team has more than doubled in size and the rings, pendants, bangles and bracelets have made their way onto many birthday wish lists. Here we chat to her about how the business got its name, being inspired by; but not following trends, and the local designers we need to know.

Tell us a bit about Dear Rae – What makes it stand out from other hand crafted jewellery? 

I would describe it as simple, elegant and versatile. It’s made to be worn every day, to be dressed up or down. We only use solid metals of silver, brass and gold – we don’t do any plating on any of our pieces, which means that they last much longer. We also often incorporate semi-precious and precious gemstones to add a splash of colour. Our ranges are all based on a theme or a story, giving more meaning to the wearer.

Did you always want to be a jewellery designer? 

I never really had one clear idea of what I wanted to be when I was ‘big”, but from a very early age I found myself starting little businesses… by the time I was nine I had created my own bead hair clip business, I sold products to the local gift store. I also started a milk, bread and newspaper delivery service on holiday at our house in Bettys Bay. Business always excited me, so I think entrepreneurship was an obvious answer for me.


Any local and international designers that inspire you?

Local –  Missibaba, the quality of their products just inspires me.

Tell us the story behind the name, Dear Rae.

My second name is Rae, I inherited it from my Ouma Rae. The word “dear” represented the preciousness of jewellery. It worked out well that “dear” without the “d” is the mirror image of the word “Rae”. It just seemed to resonate as the name for my brand.

How do you keep up with the trends?

I think travelling and browsing the internet is always a good way to keep up with what is happening in the world. I am a firm believer in being inspired by – but not following a trend. I always try to create a range around a theme or a story that resonates with me at the time. The designs naturally hold elements of trends that I have seen around me, but they are led by my own theme or story.


Tell us about your team. 

My team has grown from one to eight employees. They are all very different individuals who together make up a fantastic team. I like having a personal relationship with each one of my employees, it’s very important to me that they are being stimulated and growing in their own capacity. I think it’s very difficult to maintain that kind of relationship when your company grows too big.

What are the benefits and challenges of being a jewellery designer in South Africa today?

Well, the Rand being so weak means that our metal and diamond prices are very high. The benefit to the weak Rand is that exporting is a very viable option.

What can we look forward to seeing from Dear Rae in 2016?

You will have to wait and see…. 😉


Any upcoming designers we should be on the lookout for?

I really love Waif’s new range and earrings and hair clips, they have a lovely sculptural element.


Top 5 blogs you can’t go a day without reading?

Miss Moss, Convoy, Design SpongeMartina Thornhill and of course BigCityLife.

Shop online or visit the Dear Rae Shop at The Woodstock Foundry, 160 Albert Road, Cape Town.

Mignon van Zyl
About me

Journalist, hiker and design enthusiast with a mild form of OCD and a love for storytelling. After completing my degree at Rhodes University, I moved to White River to work for a lifestyle magazine called Lowveld Living. Thanks to my job, I’ve visited some of the most glamorous game lodges and homes, met wonderfully weird but inspiring artists, fed and kissed a tame hippo, hiked the ‘sentinel of the Lowveld’ and realised my devotion to nature. Most happy when I’m writing, walking or road tripping.


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