Lustre – Kilkenny Jewellery Graduates

A new generation of jewellery designers has emerged from a unique course in Kilkenny.

Just 10 graduates completed the DCCoI’s Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course, the only programme of its kind in the country. The students learned engraving, enamelling, gemmology, stone-setting and silversmithing, among many other traditional and modern techniques.

The works, completed over an intensive two year period, were uncovered at an exhibition titled Lustre at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny city, from July 14th to August 7th.

Over 100 pieces went on display, featuring gold, silver, platinum and gemstones. The items ranged from exquisitely crafted jewellery to more utilitarian items such as spoons, carved from a single bar of silver.

Lustre showcases not only the graduates’ technical skills, but also their creativity. In many instances students received a common brief, but their interpretations vary greatly, with students pushing the boundaries of tradition to create truly innovative, inspired works.

The highlight of the exhibition is a collection of Fabergé-style eggs which the students completed over a six week period. Each piece has something to discover inside, from intricate sculptures to pieces of jewellery or perfume bottles.

Speaking at the exhibition launch, course coordinator Eimear Conyard commended the students for completing such impressive projects under immense time pressure.

‘Fabergé had a team of highly skilled craftspeople to make his eggs, and he probably had more like six years instead of six weeks,’ Conyard said.

Gaynor Andrews, former Head of the School of Jewellery, Birmingham, also commended the students, as well as the course itself.

‘Kilkenny has a most amazing course to be proud of,’ Gaynor remarked as she officially opened the exhibition. “These students have experienced opportunities that most students could only dream of,” she added.

Gaynor explained that the students don’t just learn the traditional techniques of working with precious metals and gemstones, but also more modern methods. “There is growing reliance on technology for jewellers, and the need to embrace this fast pace of change,” she said.

This is evidenced in the wide variety of ancient and modern techniques that are utilised in the students’ pieces.

Cassie McCann’s jewellery collection titled ‘Coastline,’ features Keum-bo, an ancient Korean technique where thin sheets of gold are applied to silver.

Meanwhile, Doireann O’Riordan used the newer techniques of electro-etching and oxidising to create the interior or her Fabergé-style egg.

A number of awards were presented to outstanding graduates. Abby Jardine received the Chief Executive Award, for “her consistency in excellence of design and craftsmanship through all her projects.” Jardine, who hopes to develop her own goldsmithing business and jewellery brand previously worked as a wedding florist. This is reflected in her works, many of which feature floral themes.

Lina Siaudvytyte won the Student of the Course Award. Course manager Eimear Conyard commended Lina for ‘her drive and determination to achieve the highest quality of craftsmanship and design,’ as well as her penchant for challenging her own abilities.

Cassie McCann, meanwhile, was bestowed with the Course Manager’s Award, owing to her overall contribution to the course, and the outstanding craftsmanship of her Fabergé-style egg. McCann’s egg, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid, features a hand-carved mermaid that is truly breath-taking. 

A separate competition, Bench to Business, involved designing a jewellery collection, with the finalists selected to have their collections on display in the windows of the flagship Kilkenny Shop on Nassau Street, Dublin.

The chosen collections are Linear Dot by Sandra Hartwieg, Oblique by Mollie Paling, Coastline by Cassie McCann andWings Lina Siaudvytyte. The works will be available to buy in-store for six weeks from 18 September 2017, with one overall winner to be selected in October.


For more information, as well as the graduates’ social media and contact information, click here.

Photo gallery from the evening of the show