Policies & Issues

From Mine to Met: Event Co-Chair Gives Platform to Responsibly Sourced Gold

Policies & IssuesMay 03, 2023

From Mine to Met: Event Co-Chair Gives Platform to Responsibly Sourced Gold

Actress Michaela Coel was “dripping in gold” at the Met Gala, wearing jewelry handmade by fellow British-Ghanian artist Emefa Cole.

Michaela Coel approached jewelry designer Emefa Cole ahead of the Met Gala to inquire about Single Mine Origin gold jewelry to represent their shared Ghanaian heritage at the event. Cole styled her with a gold headpiece, a pair of earrings and two cocktail rings from her new “Worth Their Weight” collection. (Photo credit/courtesy of Emefa Cole and Getty Images)
New York—London-based jewelry artist Emefa Cole, together with Single Mine Origin (SMO), created gold jewelry for award-winning actress Michaela Coel to wear as co-chair of the Met Gala. 

Coel was the star, writer and co-director of the 2020 BBC One and HBO limited series “I May Destroy You.” In 2021, she won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Anthology Series or Movie, the first Black woman to do so.

Arriving at the Met on Monday night, Coel wore a handmade coral-esque headpiece clipped into her hair near the nape of her neck, a pair of bold gold statement earrings and two cocktail rings, hand textured to look like silky liquid gold.

When the actress approached Cole to inquire about styling her for the event, her wish was to be “dripping in gold.”

The pieces couldn’t be just any gold, though; it had to be SMO gold responsibly sourced from West Africa, the land of both their parents’ birth.

Because the two share a British-Ghanaian heritage, Cole said sourcing the gold from Endeavor Mining’s Ity mine on the Ivory Coast in West Africa, “really ties [Coel and I] together completely.”

As a designer, Cole’s process always has included recycled metals and stones sourced from Africa, inspired by her homeland.

After being connected with SMO in 2020, she said she made the decision to pivot from using recycled gold to using only SMO gold from West Africa.

According to Single Mine Origin, their gold is the first transparent and traceable gold that has full chain of custody and is fully audited.  All jewelry made with SMO gold comes with a QR code that shows its journey from mine to market.

The company wants to assure consumers their gold was mined responsibly and is free of mercury, which is harmful to miners and the environment, as well as confirming that miners are paid fairly.

“I switched to SMO gold because of 100 percent traceability,” Cole said. “Also, the fact that it’s from a region I come from, and the benefits for the people within that region, the miners. The ethics of the company I found in line with my own values and that’s, for me, quite important.”

The pieces Coel wore at the gala contain a unique QR code that allows viewers to follow the gold from Mine to Met by witnessing the journey of the gold, from the mine, the miners, and the community and environmental projects they support, to meeting Emefa Cole in her studio and, finally, seeing Michaela Coel on the red carpet at the Met Gala.

“It was so beautiful for [Coel] to make that connection and to have such a conscious mind about where the jewelry comes from, the entire chain from mine to maker to wearer,” Cole said.

Following the Met, the pieces will become part of “Worth Their Weight,” a collection by the designer inspired by her partnership with Coel and released the day after the Met Gala.

Cole designed and made every piece in Worth Their Weight, except for Coel’s hairpiece. For that, she collaborated with 28-year-old jeweler Benjamin Hawkins, with whom she shares a space at The Goldsmiths’ Centre, a creative community founded by The Goldsmiths’ Company. The piece has both their hallmarks on it.

The front and back view of the gold hairpiece Michaela Coel wore at the Met Gala on Monday. It boasts three hallmarks: Single Mine Origin, jewelry designer Emefa Cole, and Benjamin Hawkins, a jeweler who collaborated with the designer to make the piece. (Photo courtesy of Emefa Cole.)

“He’s already a master with his own apprentice, and that in itself is rare,” Cole said of Hawkins. “When I met Michaela, Ben was there with me, so she got a sense of the both of us because we were working together. He was incredibly supportive and sort of had the confidence to say, ‘We can do this.’”

The Worth Their Weight collection also includes two large cuffs, a bangle and a brooch. The collection’s name is a play on the sheer weight of traceable gold and the traditional Akan brass weights used by West African people as measuring tools, according to SMO’s website.

“I don’t just make a whole collection and push it all out there at once. It develops as time goes on,” Cole said. “I like to work in a very methodical and patient matter. I add to the pieces as time goes on, which why my ‘Erosion’ series and my ‘Vulcan’ series are continuing, because I have too much inspiration for these pieces. I can’t just do it and then just let it go.”

Coel was familiar with the designer’s Vulcan series when she reached out about the Met Gala. 

“She recently wore my jewelry for a shoot, which was a collaboration between her, the British Film Institute, and BMW, and the pictures were so powerful,” Cole said. “She looked absolutely amazing. She was wearing the ‘Caldera’ rings. That’s how she became aware of my pieces.”

The Vulcan series rings have opened other doors for Cole in her career, as they were acquired by both the The Goldsmiths’ Company’s collection, and the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London.

Cole first moved to London when she was 12 with a fascination for jewelry, precious metals, stones and the geological process of the Earth, such as volcanoes, already instilled in her. 

She graduated from London Metropolitan University’s Cass School of Art, Media and Design with a bachelor’s degree in Silversmithing and Jewelry in 2011.
She also has completed an apprenticeship with the personal Goldsmiths of the Asantehene (The King of the Ashanti) in Ghana, “facilitating a thorough exploration of the ancient lost-wax casting method, which the Ashanti have perfected,” according to her website.

In November 2019, Cole was exhibiting her jewelry at a contemporary craft fair when V&A curator of jewelry Clare Phillips approached her and bought a custom oxidized silver ring with pyrite and gold leaf for her personal collection. 

Phillips later emailed Cole saying the V&A wanted to acquire one of the rings for their permanent collection. In January 2020, the museum chose an “Untitled” ring, which resembles a Caldera ring but, Cole’s website confirms, is not officially named.

 Related stories will be right here … 

In August of last year, Cole was appointed inaugural curator for diaspora jewelry at V&A, having responded to a call for applications by the museum, which had created four new curatorial positions to grow its African and African diaspora collections.

Director of the V&A Tristram Hunt also attended the Met Gala wearing Emefa Cole jewelry, she said. He donned a handmade brooch created from the same batch of gold used to make Coel’s pieces. It is also a part of the Worth Their Weight collection.

When styling Michaela Coel for the Met Gala, jewelry designer Emefa Cole said she took inspiration from only one place, Coel's desire to be "dripping in gold." (Photo credit/courtesy of Emefa Cole and Getty Images)

Inspired by the theme for the gala, Cole said the brooch, comprised of solid gold from the pin to the hook, is “really a line of beauty.”

“It’s a really beautiful story for us, for the V&A as well, to have Tristram wearing the brooch. It really does align with our values as a museum and being more mindful of where materials are coming from and supporting sustainable companies and mining regions around the world,” Cole said. “For the director to be wearing this is truly special.”

As for Michaela Coel, Cole said, “I was really touched that she only wanted to wear my jewelry.”

A deliberate choice by all, Cole’s jewelry allowed responsibly sourced, traceable gold to be front and center at what is considered fashion’s biggest night worldwide. 

The Latest

Lightbox x Roséate Light Wand pendants
Lab-GrownDec 01, 2023
Lightbox Teams Up With Brand Founded by Former Tiffany Exec

The lab-grown diamond brand also collaborated with the website The Future Rocks on a collection launching today.

Lila Moss Calvin Klein campaign
FinancialsDec 01, 2023
Movado Lowers Guidance Again After Q3 Sales Dip

The company said it is facing a “challenging retail environment” but is prepared for the holiday season.

Muzo emerald and argyle pink diamond necklace
CollectionsDec 01, 2023
Piece of the Week: Muzo’s Emerald and Argyle Pink Diamond Necklace

It’s the hero piece of the newest "Green Jewel" collection, a collaborative offering from the two mines.

Platinum  Guild International Diamond Rings
Brought to you by
If It’s Custom, Make It Platinum

With holiday proposals right around the corner, encourage your customers to go for platinum when making the big purchase.

Pink Supreme Diamond
AuctionsNov 30, 2023
This Pink Diamond Reigned Supreme in Hong Kong

The 15.48-carat fancy intense “Pink Supreme” topped Christie’s fall jewelry auction in Asia, while a Patek Philippe led the watch sale.

Weekly QuizNov 30, 2023
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this short test.
Take the Quiz
Claire’s CFO COO Chris Cramer
MajorsNov 30, 2023
Claire’s Hires Former Bath & Body Works Exec as CFO, COO

Chris Cramer, who also spent time at Gen Z intimates brand Parade, will take on the dual role.

133 carat yellow diamond
AuctionsNov 30, 2023
Sotheby’s To Auction 133-Carat Yellow Diamond

The stone headlining the upcoming sale could fetch up to $5 million.

Brought to you by
Did You Know? The Vital Role of IGI: The International Gemological Institute

In a world where the sparkle of a gemstone is only as brilliant as the trust behind it, IGI's purpose is truly invaluable.

Kwiat diamonds
IndependentsNov 30, 2023
Frank Adams Rolls Out Kwiat’s ‘Mine to Shine’ Program

The retail offering lets customers track their diamond’s journey.

Diamond development hub in Angola
SourcingNov 29, 2023
Largest New Diamond Mine of the Decade Coming Online in Angola

The Luele mine is expected to eventually make the country the world’s third-largest diamond producer.

Holiday shoppers holding bags
SurveysNov 29, 2023
Holiday Shoppers Broke a Record This Weekend, Says NRF

From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, 200.4 million consumers shopped online and in stores.

Cast StyleBar Nordstrom
MajorsNov 29, 2023
Cast Debuts at Nordstrom, Closes on More VC Funding

The growing company also plans to open more of its own boutiques.

EditorsNov 29, 2023
Warren Buffett on Success, Mistakes and Betting on America

The best quotes from the Oracle of Omaha and his right-hand man Charlie Munger from the 2018 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting.

J. Dostie Jewelers
IndependentsNov 28, 2023
Maine Jeweler to Relocate After 76 Years

J. Dostie Jewelers will move from Lewiston to Yarmouth this spring.

Finks Jewelers new store
IndependentsNov 28, 2023
Fink’s Jewelers Opens 10th Store

It’s the company’s second location in Tennessee.

Mary Tyler Moore and a pair of Elsa Peretti Bone Cuffs
AuctionsNov 28, 2023
Mary Tyler Moore’s Jewelry Is Up For Auction

You can have this jewelry, why don’t you take it?

Original Miami Beach Antique Show 2024
Events & AwardsNov 28, 2023
The Original Miami Beach Antique Show Is Celebrating 60 Years

Next year’s milestone show will be full of educational programming and collaborations.

De Beers Metamorphosis high jewelry earrings
EditorsNov 27, 2023
10 Tips for Selling Diamonds This Holiday Season

Sales experts and a diamantaire share their best advice on how to send customers home with diamond jewelry.

Platinum Born new collection
CollectionsNov 27, 2023
See the New ‘Platinum Born’ Jewelry

The brand has released five new collections.

Frank Adams Jewelers
IndependentsNov 27, 2023
Frank Adams Jewelers Named ‘Family Business of the Year’

The Albany Business Review recently honored the 100-year-old company.

GIA Dr. John W. Valley
GradingNov 27, 2023
Dr. John W. Valley Retires from GIA Board of Governors

To honor his legacy, GIA has set up a scholarship in his name.

Stock image of police car with its lights on
CrimeNov 22, 2023
JSA Warns of Surge in Attacks on Jewelers on the Road

There have been eight attacks in the last month, spanning from a jewelry store parking lot in Rhode Island to highways in California.

Buddha Mama citrine bangle
TrendsNov 22, 2023
Amanda’s Style File: November Glow

These 15 pieces of jewelry celebrate November babies and the hues of citrine and topaz that reflect the colors of the season.

Columbia Gem House fundraiser
SourcingNov 22, 2023
Columbia Gem House Raises $12K for Wildlife

The money will help a nonprofit rehabilitate sea turtles.

Facet Barcelona factory opening
MajorsNov 22, 2023
Facet Barcelona Opens New Factory in Spain

The jewelry manufacturer said it can now better serve the North American market.

David Yurman holiday campaign
TechnologyNov 21, 2023
See David Yurman’s New High-Tech Holiday Campaign

The jewelry brand takes viewers through a virtual winter wonderland set in New York City.

2023 Rock the Jewels Awards winners
Events & AwardsNov 21, 2023
Here Are the Winners of BIJC’s Inaugural ‘Rock the Jewels’ Awards

The organization recognized outstanding industry players at its celebratory event.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy