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CSM students create pearl jewels for V&A exhibit


Museum will sell young designers’ creations through shop.

A group of jewellery students at Central Saint Martins (CSM) have joined forces with the V&A to create a collection of jewellery as part of the museum’s impending Pearls exhibition.

Three CSM BA Jewellery students, Lili Murphy Johnson, Harriet Williams and Danya Xie, have created exclusive jewellery designs to sell through the museum shop. They are part of a wider group of BA students who were given the opportunity to work with pearls in May this year. They were introduced to the key themes in the Pearls exhibition by V&A exhibition curator Beatriz Chadour-Sampson to help inspire their designs.

The students created work "exploring, pushing and probing the possibilities of pearls" with Murphy Johnson, Williams and Xie selected to have their pieces sold through the shop following feedback from the V&A shop’s head of buying Susan Mouncey.

She said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the team at Central Saint Martins and to see how this impressive group of students worked through each stage of the project; conceiving, designing and developing their work to a thoroughly polished and professional standard.

"The short listing and selection process was made incredibly difficult by the wealth of talent and creativity the students displayed throughout the process. The three pieces selected share the clarity of vision of their maker, all have excellent attention to detail. They are true originals – and very desirable pieces indeed”.

A display of the other Central Saint Martins BA Jewellery students’ bespoke work will be on display for the duration of the Pearls exhibition, which opens on September 21.

Harriet Williams’ design was inspired by the extensive history of pearls and historic portraits. She has given traditional pearl strings a makeover by painting all but one pearl in a strand of freshwaters with brightly coloured paint that glow under UV light, simultaneously highlighting the beauty of the single pearl. The design, when placed under a microscope, reveals the multitude of colours present in a pearl when viewed in detail.

The bracelet by Danya Xie places pearls in a more masculine setting than their typically feminine use as studs or a classic single string. Her ebony design is inspired by architecture, with a clean, robust structure that also contrasts the white of the pearls. Xie says she wanted to design something with intense contrasts – black and white, smooth and rough and chose the combination of wood and pearls, both natural materials.

Finally Lili Murphy Johnson’s pearl Brace-Let was inspired by the phrase ‘pearly white teeth’. She has used orthodontic braces to hold together the set of pearls to appear like a set of teeth. The piece has a dual function as a brace and a bracelet.


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