Bead Jewellery Wholesaler

We make beautiful, Africa inspired, handcrafted bead jewellery for our stockists and stores around the world.

Umtha, based in Cape Town, South Africa, designs elegant jewellery taking inspiration from our beautiful natural surroundings, weaving in the essential characteristics of high quality and affordable pricing.

We make beautiful, Africa inspired, handcrafted bead jewellery for our stockists and stores around the world.

Umtha means ‘Ray of Light’.

Established in 1992, we have always believed in trading fairly, and handcrafting beautifully.

Each individual request is handmade to order as we aspire to cater to ever need that our stockist and stores worldwide require. We are able to made bespoke orders tailored to your requirements. With over 26 years in the industry, our small team of ladies are able to create elegant jewellery that captures the imagination and that will serve as the perfect reminder of the adventures in Africa.

Who we are

  • Umtha designs  innovative Africa inspired jewellery, weaving in the essential characteristics of high quality and affordable pricing.
  • Our excellent team of jewellery producers – previously marginalised women from both Xhosa and French-speaking-refugee communities – are trained to reproduce our designs.
  • After 30 years of trading, Umtha’s position in the South African and international marketplace (mainly tourist destination shops) is well established,  allowing our dedicated sales and marketing team to sell our beautiful jewellery far and wide.
  • We’re creative people! We thrive on the buzz of innovation and design.
  • We’re aware of the desperate unemployment situation in Africa and are determined to be part of changing it. We’re passionate about providing fair wage job opportunities for previously disadvantaged South Africans and refugee-status foreigners.
  • We are committed to improving the lifestyles of our team through increasing the potential of the Umtha brand.
  • Umtha stands for fair trade principles.
  • Umtha supports disabled employment by purchasing ostrich eggshell beads from The Association of Physically Disabled workshop in Oudtshoorn.
  • Umtha is a member of the Craft and Design Institute (CDI).

Umtha is registered as a Close Corporation (cc) and an import/export company.

The Umtha Story

  • Dave and Cheryl Milligan founded Best Beads in 1992.
  • As the prospects for the small company grew, our desire to give back to marginalised communities became a reality.
  • Our first employees from the township areas of Cape Town were trained in the art of beading. Because of this new development and to reflect our vision, we introduced the new name of Umtha. A Xhosa word, Umtha means “a ray of light”.
  • In 1998 Dave and Cheryl, with two of their employees, sold Umtha’s jewellery at an international conference in the United Kingdom. During this time we made contact with Tearcraft in London, which resulted in the establishment of 15 years’ of successful export trade. Tearcraft introduced us to the Fair Trade ethos, which resulted in Umtha being accredited as a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) in 2009.
  • 2010 onwards has been challenging as the economy took a downturn, but orders continue to keep us afloat! By 2013, we have more than 200 customers in Southern & East Africa, Europe, North America, and Australia.
  • Looking back, Umtha has had many highs and low over the last 21 years. We continue to progress and develop towards the achievement of our vision: to be an excellent business handcrafting quality, innovative jewellery and empowering people from marginalised communities.

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Would you like an Africa Inspired necklace? Maybe something modelled on our unique plants?