Jewels in the crown to be unveiled in Crafts Council exhibition

AN UPCOMING exhibition featuring handcrafted jewellery using gold, silver and precious stones will offer the public a chance to meet with some of the country’s best emerging designers.

Work crafted by tomorrow’s top jewellery designers — all graduates of the Crafts Council of Ireland’s Jewellery and Goldsmithing course — will be unveiled as part of the graduate exhibition opening in the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny this Friday.

The exhibition runs for two weeks only, but a pre-exhibition event at 5pm on Friday and a “late date” on July 22 will give those interested a chance to meet the course manager and the graduates.

The 12 students emerging from the internationally-renowned two-year programme have honed their expertise and craft with some of the most highly-skilled silversmiths and goldsmiths from Ireland and beyond. They come from Tipperary, Kildare, Wicklow, Westmeath, Carlow, Dublin and slightly further afield from Estonia and California.

Unique to the Kilkenny programme, students work solely in precious metals and are encouraged to push boundaries in technique and innovative designs.

Some of the creations on display are exam pieces such as complicated hinged bracelets with handmade box catches, which had to be completed to a strict deadline. The show also includes 12 brooches which were produced using advanced fine jewellery techniques.

Each piece drew inspiration from 20th century paintings by artists such as Stanley Spencer, Wassily Kandinsky, Barbara Hepworth and others.

One of the collections of work on display is of 12 miniature teapots, produced in solid silver and showcasing each student’s technical ability and individual design aesthetics.

Each of the students also completed an 18-carat gold ring set with a single, coloured gemstone. The 12 rings are also included in the exhibition.

This was a very challenging, restrictive project, which disciplined students into working to deadlines and commission budgets, a critical skill required in the industry, according to course manager Eimear Conyard.

“Our students work solely with precious metals as we aim to mimic the traditional jewellery and goldsmithing practices within the industry,” Ms Conyard said. “Throughout the course the students also work to very tight guidelines and restrictions, key requirements in today’s industry. That’s why we have a 90% employment rate from our programme.”

Several of this year’s graduates are about to set up their own businesses while others will progress to further training or gain more experience working with jewellers in Ireland and abroad.

More than 70 applications were received from across Europe for the forthcoming programme, which runs from 2011 until 2013.

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