The CSM Pearl Variations Project At The V&A

Earlier this year, we were privileged to take part in Pearl Variations, a collaborative project between the first year BA Jewellery students at Central Saint Martins (CSM) and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

To coincide with the opening of the V&A and the Qatar Museums Authority Exhibition on Pearls, the students were invited to explore the history of this gem and the possibilities that new ideas and creativity might bring to pearl jewellery design.

Each student was encouraged to produce a collection or theme of work, with the opportunity for three pieces to be selected for sale in the V&A Shop -  an exciting prospect for any aspiring jewellery designer!

Harriet Williams

Following an introduction to the exhibition by one of its curators Beatriz Chadour-Sampson, the students embarked on developing their ideas.

Alongside a senior buyer from the V&A, we attended two reviews in March and June to give some specialist pearl feedback on the work-in-progress.

Looking back at the notes from those sessions, it is fantastic to see how the students' work progressed throughout the project.

Lili Murphy Johnson's Brace-let (pictured above) was inspired by the phrase 'pearly white teeth'. The original design using orthodontic steel braces and pearls to give the impression of a dental brace of real teeth was carried through brilliantly.

There were many other stand-out ideas in the group. Harriet Williams' vibrantly painted pearls (also above) played with notions of value and colour, whilst Danya Xie's ebony pearl ring was one of our favourites. An elegant contrast of materials, colour and texture created a ring that would be endlessly turned on the wearer's finger.

Danye Xie

During the period of the exhibition until 19 January 2014, each of the pieces above are on sale in person and online at the V&A Shop.

Our thanks go to the students, Giles Last at CSM and the V&A for the realisation of this unique project.