‘There is a great revival in the jeweller’s art,’ wrote Douglas Bennett in the 20th Anniversary edition of the Irish Arts Review. Whether in precious metals or unconventional materials, both new and established talents have pushed past the Claddagh ring barrier to take Irish jewellery into the realms of vibrant creativity. 2004 has been a good year for Irish jewellery. For the first time Irish jewellers were invited to exhibit in this year’s LOOT! – the prestigious exhibition at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York that takes place every two years. Another highlight in the calendar was ‘Influence – Contemporary Metals & Jewellery’ at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, organised to focus attention on the potential in contemporary metals and jewellery design. The Made For America Design Award is a particularly savvy initiative created to stimulate new product development for the American Celtic market, jointly sponsored and organised by the Crafts Council of Ireland and the North American Celtic Buyers Association. Entrants submit a single piece which, given that the product is literally ‘made for America’, must show an obvious Celtic connection. This year’s winners included Clarisse Wisser, who won against tough competition with a sterling silver swan pendant entitled ‘Celtica Forever’, inspired by the myth immortalised by Yeats in The Love Song of Wandering Aengus.
Garrett Mallon is another rising star in jewellery design. In July his piece, ‘Pillow Talk’ won 1st prize in the jewellery section of the National Crafts Competition. The same piece also won the Award of Excellence from the Association of Goldsmiths of Dublin. The award winning necklace features etched sterling silver shaped into domed ‘pillows’ with 9ct gold and silver hearts.
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