Morgan Freeman and his Invictus producer Lori McCreary wore emerald-laden 46664 bangles on Oscar night. Designed by bespoke jeweler Sabine Roemer, using ethically-produced emeralds from gemstone leader Gemfields, South African Namakwa diamonds, and African gold and platinum, these unique pieces were auctioned off after the Oscars to raise money to help Nelson Mandela's foundation combat HIV/AIDS in South Africa and worldwide. 46664 is derived from the number that Nelson Mandela wore during his long years in South African prisons prior to the end of apartheid: Mandela now seeks to transform that symbol of oppression into one of hope and empowerment…much as he did.
Sabine tells the story of her virtuous bling to HAND/EYE in her own words – and she invites you to visit www.46664.com to learn more about Nelson Mandela’s global HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention campaign, and to purchase a bangle (minus the emeralds) for yourself.
During a phone call 3 years ago from Johannesburg, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing: I was being invited to meet the most amazing person alive …. Nelson Mandela! Not only I was about to board a plane to South Africa to meet this inspirational icon, I also was invited to create an exciting piece for his birthday celebration. Each year his birthday is celebrated as Nelson Mandela day, and his foundation raises funds for its HIV/AIDS work, and other empowerment programs.
I was nervous, excited and honored all at the same time. Straightaway I read every book I could get hold of to try to understand him better, to get inspired to create a very personal and unique piece. I eventually decided to sculpt his favorite animal, a Nguni cattle, in 18 karat white-gold, set with black and white Namakwa diamonds and framed with this engraving underneath:
“I discovered the almost mystical attachment that the Xhosa have for cattle, not only as a source of food and wealth, but as a blessing from God and a source of happiness” (Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, page 11)
The Nelson Mandela Foundation was the first charity I worked with and meeting Madiba (Mandela’s familiar name) changed my outlook on life and people. He is an inspiring and amazing person, who changes the lives of so many people. Since that first meeting I now create a piece every year for his birthday celebration. Last year in NYC the Mandela Day event was hosted by Bill Clinton, as Madiba is not travelling anymore.
For his 91st birthday I created his handprint, engraved on a sterling-silver plate set with belly-up white Namakwa diamonds, so you could feel the love, life, and head lines on his hand print. Underneath there was a piece of sandstone from Robben Island, the site of his imprisonment, which has an engraving around it:
“…they took us to the quarry to dig lime. Now that is a very difficult operation because you use a pick. The lime is in layers of rock. You find a rock layer, a rocky layer, and to get to the lime, you have to break that layer, that rock layer. You then get the lime, you scoop it out and then you come to another layer of rock and in order to get the lime, you have to break through that rock. And to break through that rock is not very easy. So what we did — they sent us there, because they wanted to show us that to come to jail is not an easy thing, its not a picnic and you must never come to jail again. They wanted to break our spirits. So what we did was to sing freedom songs as we were working and everybody was inspired, you know, went through the work, you know, with high morale and then of course dancing to the music as we were working, you know?” (from Nelson Mandela, Quarry)
The piece was called Masincedane, which is Xhosa for “The hand that helps others” and was bought by Morgan Freeman, who played Nelson Mandela in the movie Invictus
alongside Matt Damon, and directed by Clint Eastwood. Morgan Freeman was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his outstanding performance as Nelson Mandela in the story of South Africa’s 1995 Rugby World Cup victory and its impact on bringing a nation together.
Simple, handcrafted precious metal 46664 Bangles (466 was his prison number, and 64 was the year that he was imprisoned) are made in South Africa entirely by hand and sold on www.46664.com
. With every bangle purchase, Nelson Mandela’s foundation starts a new story of hope --- hope for a better future for the person who receives income through making the bangle, hope for the person who made the box it comes in and the hope that by wearing it, you allow 46664 to reach another individual and educate them against the pandemic of HIV/AIDS. As they say: Buy a Bangle, Change a Life.
I created bespoke 46664 bangles for Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary to wear to the Oscars. I only used African materials like locally produced 18K yellow gold and platinum and some vibrant deep green Zambian emeralds produced by colored gemstone mining company, Gemfields, whose focus is on the consistent supply of ethically-produced emeralds that have followed a transparent route from mine to market, setting new benchmarks for fair-trade, environmental, social and safety practices in the gemstone industry. I chose emeralds, as ancient cultures have always associated the rich, timeless color of emeralds with hope, the eternal life cycle, rejuvenation, peace, spring and the sheer possibilities inherent in nature. Emeralds frequently take the form of a cherished talisman, a tactile charm to entice prosperity and health. The conflict-free diamonds are from South African diamond company Namakwa, who are loyal supporters of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
When Morgan and Lori mentioned at the UK premiere of Invictus that they wanted something different to wear at the Oscars, I wanted to create two pieces of jewelry that were 100% African. It seemed fitting to raise awareness around the 46664 Bangle initiative, an international symbol in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Combined with Zambian emeralds from Gemfields and local Diamonds from Namakwa it seemed like the perfect fit.
All 46664 Bangles bear a unique serial number that can be used to register them online and in so doing, authenticate them and track who has been employed through the program. In honor of Freeman's and McCreary’s commitment to the 46664 Bangle initiative, as well as in recognition of the Oscar nomination, the serial code on the inside of his bangle reads ‘Invictus’. After the Oscars®, the bracelets were auctioned to raise funds for the 46664 Campaign of The Nelson Mandela Foundation, including the fight against HIV/AIDS. To support 46664, log on to www.46664.com
to purchase a 46664 Bangle or to find a retailer near you. (In the US, the bangles are sold at Montblanc boutiques.)
For immediate delivery in the US, the bangles can be bought online at www.theBangle.com
or at 1-866-984-6664.
Buy a Bangle. Change a Life.
For more information on Sabine Roemer, see www.sabineroemer.com. For more on colored gemstone leader Gemfields, see www.gemfields.co.uk.