By Refiloe Mohloki
Agate stones are precious and colourful stones which can be used for making ornaments and jewellery, they are also believed to enhance mental function and improve concentration. They come in multiple colours and patterns, and their unique colours is what makes them stand out. Lesotho is among countries that have agate stones in abundance.
Realeboha Josina from Lekokoaneng uses agates to make rings, earrings and pendants. He says a few years back, he came across a newspaper which had an article about the biggest diamond which had been extracted from the Lesotho mines, thus being a geography student, he became interested and looked into a career that was related to stones and diamonds.
He says his parents did not approve of his decision to become a lapidist. He applied at different institutions but his first choice was Lesotho Diamond Academy, “my parents were not happy with me for choosing to attend the Lesotho Diamond Academy but still I enrolled and completed my studied with them. After graduating I then enrolled into the Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School to further my studies.”
Josina confessed that one day while he was watching the national television he heard of a rare and beautiful stones found in Lesotho which could be used for making jewellery. “A couple of years back I was watching a presentation by a man from Germany , Guido Debeer, on Lesotho Television who was telling a story about how he relocated from Germany to Lesotho to look for agate stones. He said Lesotho had the best agates and he also wanted people who were interested in lapidary and jewellery making to visit his workshop in Pitseng.”…..
There after he decided to take a leap of faith to visit Debeer’s workshop in Pitseng and was mentored and offered a job as a professional lapidist and polisher. He says he settled in very well because he was already familiar with polishing and lapidary and was also passionate about his work.
Moreover, he was also mentored by Danie Kruger from Cape Town after an interview he had with Lesotho Television about the work they do at the workshop. “Kruger had so much to share with us even though he had just retired, he helped us make connections and acquire more gemstones.”
The lapidist says, they collected stones in Berea, Botha-Bothe, Leribe and even Mpumalanga South Africa. He says the stones are cut, trimmed, bevelled and polished to form desired products.
He concluded that he likes and enjoys cutting and polishing different stones and also turning them into valuable jewellery. He highlighted that being a lapidist requires someone with a good hand and a good eye coordination. Again he stated that his job granted him the opportunity to attend and show case his work at art festivals and other exhibitions, “I also had the opportunity to attend the Cherry Festival, Botswana Expo, Morija arts and culture as part of my work,” explained the lapidist.