Independent experimental jewellery artist and designer-maker Emefa Cole was born in Sunyani, West-Central Ghana in 1979 to a Ga mother and an Ewe and Ga-Dangbe father. Moving to London when she was 12-years-old, she graduated from London Metropolitan University’s Cass School of Art in 2011 with a BA (Hons) in Silversmithing and Jewellery. Upon graduation, she launched and built her company: envisioning and bringing to life wearable art which employs subtlety in honouring its inspirations and considered tasteful understatement in its craft.
Designing after Earth’s sweeping geological processes in concert with time and the artefacts of her recollections, Emefa uses 100% recycled metals and stones sourced directly from African gem cutters to forge distinctive body adornment that dares to be quiet in its boldness, sculptural yet flowing, tactile yet intangible, luxurious yet subversive, and gilt yet natural.
The genesis of the designer can be pinpointed to a childhood fascination with jewellery, precious metals, and stones of the Earth, where girlhood awe flowered into an enrapturement, a bottomless admiration, and a depthless love affair. Growing up in Ghana, Emefa was utterly enthralled by the local folklore surrounding tales of people unearthing gold nuggets exposed by heavy tropical rains; the spectacle of gold winking from the soil’s confines so fixed in her mind that a mythology around unveiling Earth’s treasures holds court and pervades her work to this day. More formative interactions with jewellery include both creation and purchase–stringing Job’s tears (seeds that grow on long grass plants) to construct necklaces, and choosing her own jewellery for the first time: a glorious pair of gold studs set with stones red as pigeon blood.
This abounding heritage, and early connection to her homeland and artistry form one theme of Emefa’s work, with influences coming from across western Africa–a place rife with master goldsmiths. She, in turn, meditates on the notion of belonging, how belonging to a place is always in flux, and how one always brings snatches of a place with them on their migrations. The Dzonu series is naturally linked to this as it is an homage to the intrinsic role of beads in Ghanaian culture, in Emefa’s life, and her family’s history.
The other major theme is based on the beauty of creational tenets underpinning natural phenomena typically viewed as destructive, and nowhere is this more sublimely manifested than through the Vulcan series. Here, Emefa celebrates the wonders of volcanology, and the products of volcanoes and their activity, as well as the colours, textures, and tones they rend into the landscape. The Erosion series is a foil to Vulcan and a link to the gold nuggets of Emefa’s childhood. Its inspiration lies in the quiet, continual natural process shaping the planet.