Celebrated jeweller Emefa Cole joins the V&A to share her unique experience and expertise as the museums’ inaugural Curator of Jewellery (Diaspora).
Emefa Cole will bring a wealth of practical jewellery design and silversmithing knowledge to the role as she leads on the acquisition, documentation, research, presentation, and interpretation of the V&A’s jewellery collection, with a distinct focus on diaspora. The V&A has admitted that this is an area of its collections that needs to be expanded.
Emefa will work closely with Christine Checinska Senior Curator, Africa and Diaspora and her team to shape a new vision for jewellery at the V&A. We acknowledge the wonderful, ongoing Africa Fashion exhibition led Christine Checinska.
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As the inaugural Curator of Jewellery (Diaspora), Emefa who spent her childhood years in Ghana, an experience which first provoked her interest in gold and the local mythologies surrounding it, will bring an authentic perspective to collecting and interpreting jewellery at the V&A museum.
While we skip for the time being how they came to acquire them, the V&A is recognised to have one of the most comprehensive collections of jewellery in the world with more than 3,000 pieces which together give a rich tapestry of jewellery from ancient times to the present day. In addition to more ancient pieces, contemporary works include a gift to the museum from singer Beyoncé of a Papillon ring by Glenn Spiro.
A graduate of jewellery and silversmithing from London Metropolitan University, Cole has previously exhibited her jewellery at Goldsmiths’ Hall and has worked as a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art. Her work as a jewellery artist explores the transformative power of materials to create timeless, bold body adornment using SMO gold (Single Mine Origin) and recycled silver of known provenance in all her pieces.
In 2020 the V&A acquired a Vulcan ring created by Emefa for the permanent jewellery collection that is on display in the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery. This acquisition was featured on the BBC 2 series ‘Secrets of the Museum’. In 2021, the Goldsmiths’ Company acquired Emefa’s Caldera ring for its collection.
“This is an opportunity to add to the existing collection through my lens as a maker.”
Clearly passionate about her art, Cole uses traditional lost wax-casting techniques, layering various metals including gold, silver, rhodium and oxidised bronze with gold leaf to create pieces that capture the beauty of destruction through a natural peeling process that unveils different layers of precious metals over time. Her understanding of this technique has evolved through an apprenticeship in Ghana with the revered Asentehene’s goldsmith Nana Poku Amponsah Dwumfour in 2020.
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Speaking about her appointment Emefa said: “I’m looking forward to working alongside the most incredible team of curators, including Clare Phillips who discovered my work in November 2019. This is an opportunity to add to the existing collection through my lens as a maker, for which I’m honoured. The impact of this role on my own practice will be invaluable.”