Emefa Cole Appointed Inaugural Curator of Jewelry, Diaspora, at V&A

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The London-based Ghanaian jewelry designer Emefa Cole has been named the inaugural curator of Jewelry, Diaspora, supported by Elizabeth Gage at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In her new role, Cole will lead the “acquisition, documentation, research, presentation and interpretation of the V&A’s jewelry collection with a distinct focus on diaspora,” the cultural institute said, adding that she will work closely with Christine Checinska, senior curator, Africa, and Diaspora, and her team to manifest a new vision for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s jewelry collection.

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The museum –– which owns one of the most comprehensive jewelry collections in the world with highlights including jeweled pendants given by Elizabeth I to her courtiers, diamonds worn by Catherine the Great of Russia, and Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet — acknowledged that the diaspora “area of its collections needs to be expanded.”

A London Metropolitan University alumni, Cole is known for aligning her design ethos with the origin of source materials, as she combines her Ghanaian heritage and natural forces-inspiration into pieces using single-mine origin gold from West Africa, as well as upcycled silver and diamonds.

One of her sculptural rings from the Vulcan series was added to the Victoria and Albert Museum’s permanent collection in November 2019, and was later featured on the BBC 2 series “Secrets of the Museum.” The piece is now on display in the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery.

“I’m looking forward to working alongside the most incredible team of curators, including Clare Phillips, who discovered my work.…This is an opportunity to add to the existing collection through my lens as a maker, for which I’m honored. The impact of this role on my own practice will be invaluable,” Cole said.

James Robinson, keeper of decorative art and sculpture at the V&A, added that her appointment represented “a huge advance for us in our constant interrogation of the collections to ensure that they retain relevance for our diverse audiences while adhering to the standards of excellence for which the museum is justly famous.”

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