In a golden age of Irish design, with our high street shops— from Dunnes to Arnotts to Kilkenny — teaming with Irish talent; the newly-launched Só Collective at Kildare Village celebrating contemporary Irish craft and design; and initiatives like Create at Brown Thomas giving a platform to emerging designers, one facet of this newly- invigorated Irish design scene is shining brighter than any other.
Spurred on by changes in the way we buy and wear it, jewellery is having a moment, and Irish designers — in particular female entrepreneurs — have been quick to carve a noticeable niche in this growing market.
While every woman wonders how she ever pulled a look together before the advent of “statement” necklaces, it’s not just these attention-grabbing focal pieces that modern women are focused on collecting.
From affordable semi-precious jewellery to luxurious solid gold and precious stones; delicate and feminine to edgy and modern; contemporary Irish jewellers are catering to every taste and budget, and where once fine jewellery was gifted to women and stored away for special wear, now — designed by women, for women — it has evolved to find a place in our everyday wardrobes.
Taking their fashion cue from the laid back, ultra-personalised style of Angela Scanlon, women today are buying jewellery that speaks to them, then dipping into their collections, mixing and matching, stacking up rings and layering necklaces.
“The way women see jewellery has changed,” agrees Natasha Sherling, a former editor-turned- jeweller. “Now women change their jewels like a bag or a pair of shoes — which also means they self-purchase, rather than waiting for a piece to be gifted.
“Fine jewellery is very personal, and because we own it for such a long time it’s something that tells our story better than anything else we wear. Jewellery marks birthdays, babies, graduations, promotions, and we want it to reflect our own style, so women are more involved in these purchases now than ever before.”
In her bespoke work, Natasha has noticed “a distinct difference between what men would like their wives or girlfriends to wear, and what those same women actually want to wear!” Which is exactly why this current crop of female jewellers is finding success.
“As a woman, I wear jewellery myself ,” Natasha explains, “so I know what’s comfortable. I know which pieces are easy to weave into an existing jewellery wardrobe.” The same could be said for all our featured jewellers.
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