Marie-José Crespin

Marie-José Crespin: Necklaces fashioned out of trade beads (no date given)
Courtesy the artist


As a girl, Marie-José Crespin began making her own jewelry. Today she is over 80 years old and has never renounced her passion. Her house on Gorée is full of stones, pearls, rings and necklaces, and being able to browse there is a great privilege. In the meantime, Crespin had made an important career as a lawyer; she was the first woman at the Supreme Court of Senegal. But even during this time, the pearls did not let her go. She even thinks she can think more sharply when choosing and combining pearls and stringing them. Crespin’s necklaces and rings are about more than just the beautiful shape. Each of her jewelry pieces is an exhibition in miniature. And Crespin knows each material as well as its history, which is also the history of the African continent along with its global interconnections – from Venetian glass beads that served as currency in the slave trade to pieces of gold, dorsal vertebrae, animal teeth, amulets, flamingo feathers and the like.