In Ireland there are very few makers of art jewellery and particularly few that dedicate 100% of their studio practice to art jewellery. However, do ask around, because you may be surprised to find that your humble neighbourhood jeweller or contemporary studio jeweller or goldsmith does a whole lot more than confirmation pendants and engagement rings.

An excellent example is design and goldmith duo Da Capo. Their series of one off rings in their signature “embrace” series span a wide range from unusual contemporary engagement or occasion rings through to exquisitely designed and expertly made art rings.

For example their Embrace #3 ring is an exercise in how “high can you fly” - creating the tallest ring they could imagine. Height of a setting is an important design factor in rings as it affects not only the comfort for the wearer, but also protection of the gem it holds. The egg shape is a wink to Faberge’s egg shaped objects d’art, but also that wonderful juxtaposition of protecting new life but with such a fragile structure. The delicate mexican fire opal and its bright orange colour are a gentle nod to the fragile egg - like the yolk, sitting well protected in this mesmerizing structure. We are not at all surprised that this stunning design was included in Larks 500 Rings.

Da Capo’s most recent creation is the spectacular Sacred Heart ring. Composed of three rings that can be worn separately, the Sacred Heart ring is presented in a wall-mounted case with deconstructed religious Icon and votive lamp - so the wearer can enjoy it even when not wearing it. It was made for an exhibition - exploring what was disappearing from Ireland and Irish life and culture.

We have always been fascinated by the iconography of the sacred heart pictures that used to be ever-present on walls of Irish kitchens and bedrooms. The votive lamp is every memory we have of visiting our grannies houses as small children.”

Book an appointment to view Da Capo’s exceptional art jewellery.

Freiderike Grace People - coming home- ring designyard

Friederike Grace is another surprising maker at DesignYard. She is fascinated with silver people, each with its own personality, and how they get into everything: the homunculus theory of philosophy, the little man in your head, voices of inspiration.

In 2013, she held an exhibition of her silver people: sitting against a gemstone setting, hanging off necklaces, standing on rings, bringing their suitcase from abroad and hiding in bigger 3-dimensional structures, like the house ring or the Rapunzel tower.

Lucy Looby sitting on her dowry was inspired by my own visit back home to Germany where I still have a box of belongings stored in the attic, after all those years living in Ireland. The Fairy godmother just looked so comforting, that you’d be able to tell her everything. The stories kept spinning from the little silver figures, or from the surroundings they were placed into, as for example Staying in the Loop.

Email us at Designyard for available pieces and prices, or book an appointment to view the silver people.

We also admire Eimear Conyard’s jewellery and timepieces, produced especially for exhibitions or private commissions. She mixes noble metals, pearls, and precious gems with manmade materials like perspex and Delron. She teases out the best of each material to create beautiful balanced pieces of wearable art, that are “not merely adornment art, but also an object independent from the body”.

Her sculptural pieces crossover between silversmithing and goldsmithing - seamlessly presenting her exquisite rings in a handmade hollow-form vessel. Beautiful on the body, but equally stunning placed on your dresser or mantlepiece.

Making something functional does not mean it cannot be art. After all, art has a function for me, as it feeds my soul. As a crafts person and designer/maker, I ask the question: ‘Is it the art of the craft or the craft or the art?”

Seliena Coyle is an educator and maker, with her studio based in Derry Northern Ireland. Over the years she has produced various works based around a theme. Her latest is a body of wall-based work comprising 100 contemporary icons inspired by and dedicated to women. Each one includes symbolic references, “constructing a micro cosmos unique to each protagonist. They serve to honour and eulogise the individual.”

For the “bog queen” Seliena draws inspiration from the historic gold works in the National Museum of Ireland, evaluating where the ancient techniques and aesthetic fit in a contemporary world. In the face of globalization and the subsequent homogenization of style, she sets out to create a new contemporary Irish aesthetic that is “reflective of a uniquely Irish landscape and utilizes a material indigenous to the country: bog oak.”

And really this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Ireland’s wealth of highly skilled and creative jewellery makers. We look forward to introducing you to more incredible makers in the near future.

September 01, 2020 — Nicole van der Wolf