Designer converts Karaganda coal into award-winning jewellery

NUR-SULTAN – Olga Zeller, a designer from Karaganda, creates coal jewellery in a variety of designs, from patterns inspired by her own heritage to modern minimalist looks.

Photo credit: Tseller Instagram Page.

Zeller is trained as an economist, but five years ago, she got involved in jewellery manufacturing.

“First I worked with polymer clay. Frankly speaking, I did not think that it would be possible to make a profitable business from a hobby. I thought that I would give cute handmade jewellery to relatives and friends,” Zeller told

“As soon as the first buyers appeared, I realised I needed to upgrade my skills,” she added.

The entrepreneur began to master new technologies in jewellery design. Flowers were one of the first natural materials she incorporated into her pieces. As the summer in central Kazakhstan is very short, the designer uses dried flowers framed in resin and silver, as well as fur, leather, feathers, bones and natural stones in her jewellery.

She’s been working with coal for two years and says jewellery from this type of stone is in high demand, and strongly associated with Karaganda. She makes earrings, pendants and bracelets from Karaganda coal. As the designer explains, coal, compared to many stones, is much lighter and cheaper, and it looks as good as black agate.

“Coal is lighter than natural or semi-precious stones. I do not have to search for it as it is sold in any supermarket in Karaganda. Considering that I live in a coal-fired house, I don’t have a shortage of raw materials at all,” said Zeller.

Photo credit: Tseller Instagram Page.

For her jewellery, the designer chooses anthracite coal, which is a deeply saturated black. In some of her products, she uses it as small black diamonds.

In general, it takes 10 days for Zeller to make one piece of jewellery, though it all depends on the size and particular design of each piece. The designer spends about a week of that time on coal preparation. Zeller is currently at work preparing a collection for a show in Moscow. She won a trip to Moscow through an open city competition in which she topped the best designer in jewellery category. She also won a trip to Altai for the region’s Sunny Deer International Competition. In Moscow, she’ll present an ethnic style jewellery collection.

The designer’s work can be found on her Instagram pages @olga_zeller and @tulola5.

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