This is the story of Kim Atkins, a woman who followed God’s voice in the creation of inspired jewellery to encourage women and empower a community. By Tamsyn Cornelius
Kim Atkins has always been a creative enthusiast, but it wasn’t until a visit with a friend almost a decade ago, that her focus quickly shifted into creating jewellery.
“I had been struggling with God over my unwillingness to put down my work as a ceramic restorer,” explains Kim. “I had always had an affinity to creative design but had never really ventured into it until one day I felt God saying that I would miss what He had for me if I did not explore this option. The next day I received a call from a friend saying that she felt that I needed to start beading. That afternoon I was handed a cheque to start. Now God certainly had my attention.”
A Prophetic Art
Initially, jewellery making became a part-time activity, but soon enough Kim realised the impact of creating pieces that were prophetic and explicitly spoke of the beauty and dignity of women.
“I felt God leading me to take a physical thing – something tangible – and make a prophetic declaration like Noah’s rainbow…”
“And so began the journey of making a coloured necklace representative of Noah’s covenant rainbow as described in Genesis 9:16.”
Inspired by biblical pictures and imagery, Kim went on to create her first collection entitled ‘Jewellery That Speaks’ with a range of pieces that continues to form the centrepiece of her current work. She also began to explore working in sterling silver. Each item is based on Scripture as Kim seeks to capture visually the messages of hope contained in the Bible.
“I learned many things about the meaning of Scriptural colours and numbers and incorporated these into my designs. I would see pictures, and interpret these into jewellery, to encourage the wearer to draw closer to the Father.”
Over time, a more complete vision for her work grew, and Kim felt called to work for the restoration of dignity and hope for women in all circumstances, and particularly those that have become victims of abuse or human trafficking.
“One day I felt God asking me: ‘What is the currency of slavery?’’ The answer was beads. The currency of the African slave trade was largely beads; with some of those beads still being available today, euphemistically called ‘trade beads’. I wasn’t sure how to link this idea to my work, but I knew that I needed to ‘add value’.
Kim started to work with students and young jewellers, giving them real-world experience to earn some income. Kim feels strongly that she can give them dignity by paying fair wages, while helping them to produce quality work.
Kim’s experience with these young jewellers, many from disadvantaged backgrounds, has led to the formation of the fledgling Legacy Jewellery Project. Although still in the formative stages, the aim is to build a communal work space for actual bench jewellers in the community. It is to become a studio and an incubator to facilitate jewellers and allow access into the mainstream market.
“Even though a person may be skilled, if they are not working, they still battle poverty. This is when I felt God talking to me about helping the jewellers into the city gates and that He would redeem the women in the city.”
Kim continues to ‘add value’ and in her own business, she introduces new ranges to creatively express ideas of beauty and wholeness that underpins all her work.
For more visit www.kimatkins.co.za.
*Read more about other amazing local women making a mark in society as featured in our Jewels in His Crown series. You can also catch this article published in The Christian Lifestyle Magazine, September 2018.