20 Years of Friederike Grace
We caught up with amazingly talented designer Frederike Grace in her Irish studio in County Kilkenny for a chat. Her new workshop is set up in the wild hills of Tullaroan, which is a bit of a trek from her childhood home near the East German border.
Over tea she tells us how she came to live in Ireland. “It was a three week language course and destiny’s kiss that brought me here. I met this handsome Irish man, fell head over heels in love and moved to Kilkenny the following year.” She chuckles and divulges that her first love didn’t last, but she has no regrets: she is happily married and living in County Kilkenny with her three fine boys and German pointer Nick.
Her love for coloured gems started early with her father taking up gemstone cutting as a hobby. In search of the perfect raw materials they frequently visited trade fairs and specialist gem dealers in Idar-Oberstein (Europe’s lapidary centre for cutting coloured gems). In 1989 she was very lucky to secure one of very few goldsmithing apprenticeships in a master crafts workshop near home in Wolfenbüttel. Friederike finished top of her class, winning a scholarship to travel to Ireland and Australia.
When she first came to Ireland she worked with Liam Costigan Goldsmith in Kilkenny before completing her masters in Frankfurt in 1998. She set up her own business in 2004 and still uses gems her father cut when she was young. She is very conscientious in sourcing her gems and precious metals - she continues to work with small private stone cutters all over the world, who work in harmony with nature. On request, man-made gems can be used as well. Friederike works with recycled precious metals and is available for commission work.
“My jewellery is a pure celebration of precious moments, a memory, an occasion, made to last. The designs come together as a meditation of colour, texture and materials, touching the emotional landscape of the beholder." You can tell from looking at her work that she makes with great sensitivity to the materials, colours and the wearer.
When she isn't working at the bench, you can find her walking Kilkenny's beautiful trails and forests with her dog, swimming in one of Kilkenny's many pools or buying vegetables at Thursday's organic market on the Parade. Her husband is a herbalist and they do anything to encourage green living and good health - like organising wild plant walks, fermentation and cream making workshops, and making cleaning products from natural products.
2024 marks a great anniversary for Friederike: it is her 20th year in business. At DesignYard we are delighted to have been a partner from the early beginnings, exhibiting her spectacular jewellery since 2005. Book your appointment to view Friederike's gorgeous work in person.