On Emefa Cole London, Inc 2012
Ghanaian-born, London-based, well on Her way
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.
Experimentation is consistently foregrounded in Emefa’s approach and her methodology combines thorough research with both traditional and modern praxis: casting silver with the lost-wax technique; using plating and gilding to layer gold, silver, rhodium, and oxidised bronze with gold leaf; capturing the beauty of destruction through the natural peeling process of patination; and revealing layers of precious metal over time. Utilising these processes, Emefa interprets the creational, transformative powers of Nature and her own childhood memories of exposed gold nuggets in rich earth, marrying her art with her life.
Apprenticeship with the Asantehene’s personal Goldsmith
“I was very fortunate to be allowed to study with his personal goldsmith, it’s very rare because women often don’t do goldsmithing in Ghana and they definitely don’t let anybody and any outsider in to learn with him”
Because Magazine, ‘In Conversation with Emefa Cole’
“Nana [Poku Amponsah Dwumfour, the goldsmith] and I explored how to create pieces like his but using Ferris Wax, which is what we have here in the West”
Wallpaper Magazine, ‘Wonder Vision’, March 2021
Emefa’s spirit of experimentation and passion for the gold craft in her land of birth have culminated in a remarkable opportunity: she has been lucky enough to be given the distinct honour of an apprenticeship with the personal Goldsmiths of the Asantehene (The King of the Ashanti), facilitating a thorough exploration of the ancient lost-wax casting method which the Ashanti have perfected. Upon finishing her apprenticeship, Emefa will be a keeper of this tradition and will have the ability to teach it to a new generation of metalsmiths.
Her Gift to You
As all-encompassing as the natural and familial occurrences that inspire them, Emefa’s designs can be seen in art galleries or can be personalised. She creates one-of-a-kind private commissions for all life events: engagements and weddings, holidays, birthdays, births, and significant milestones. Whilst working on a commissioned piece, she engages with the client by sending photographs at various stages of creation–connecting them to their jewellery in the same way that she is fundamentally connected to every piece she casts. Ultimately for Emefa, designing and making body adornment runs right alongside life’s events.