Emmy Van Leersum was born in Hilversum, The Netherlands. She met fellow student, Gijs Bakker, while studying jewelry design in Stockholm. The two became creative partners for over twenty years. Together, they did pioneering work in jewelry design from the 1960s until Van Leersum’s untimely death in 1984. She was a hugely influential designer, both in her native country and throughout the world. A retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1980 reaffirmed her stature as a leader in minimalist jewelry design.
Van Leersum was trained at the Gerrit Rieveld Academy between 1958-62; later in 1962 she attended Konstfackskolan, in Stockholm, Sweden. Her first solo exhibition was in 1993, and has been shown most recently in 2014.
In describing her work Van Leersum said, “I’m not sure that my work really has that much to do with jewelery. It’s more to do with people, with shapes; getting away from simply buying gold. That tradition has never appealed to me. I think you should have a reason for wearing something.”