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Courtville: vintage jewellers with a thoroughly modern message

TikToking and podcasting are just two ways the family firm moves with changing shopping tastes

 

The antique and vintage jewellery world is one of untold mystery, intrigue and delight. Viewed by many as the antidote to the fast-fashion and throwaway culture of the modern world, it still battles the perception of being an exclusive and inaccessible club, welcoming only the vastly wealthy or wildly eccentric.

Matthew Weldon, owner of Courtville jewellers in Dublin’s Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, is on a quest to change all that.

The Courtville shop in the Powerscourt Centre
The Courtville shop in the Powerscourt Centre

“We’ve noticed that more and more people want something that is unique, handmade, sustainable and that will last a lifetime,” he says. “With pre-loved jewellery you get something that is beautiful, unique, unusual and has its own story attached – not to mention you’ll more than likely get a great deal.”

At 32, Weldon is the youngest of a large family of jewellers; his father, Jimmy, is a walking encyclopaedia on antique Irish silver. The family shop, located in the corner of Powerscourt Townhouse, is grounded in the knowledge and experience of the old world while also having the know-how to adapt the business to an ever-changing global media landscape.

“People love antique jewellery, but the skills are all held by older people,” he says. “Older people know about the styles, the settings, the history . . . I like to think we have an older person’s knowledge of the industry, but we’ve got a younger person’s take on it.”

Courtville’s gemstone expert is Alyce Ketcher, a GIA-certified gemologist from Australia. With her keen eye for detail, Ketcher can spot a fabulous piece from a mile away. Still, for her it’s always about going with what you love.

“I always tell people, don’t go for what other people tell you is beautiful, go with what you yourself love,” she says. “It’s really important that you follow that information because you don’t want to be wearing something that somebody else finds attractive and you don’t find attractive because you’re going to find no pleasure in it at all. You have to go with what you find beautiful.”

As a self-professed jewellery stylist, Ketcher is at her best when showing people how to wear antique and vintage pieces in a way that’s fashionable and, most importantly, suited to their individual style.

In the wake of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic, the doors of his shop shut and the business facing unprecedented uncertainty, Weldon saw that the landscape was changing.

“I think everybody was in shock in January. The perfect storm was Brexit happening as well. There was no finish line in sight and there still isn’t. I knew we had to adapt.”

Adding to an already thriving Instagram following, Weldon began making TikToks about gemstones and other fancy objects around the shop. To his surprise, it was an instant success – he now boasts 75,000 followers on TikTok.

“I think it was our third or fourth video that went viral and it was just us looking at a tiara! I think it’s the intrigue of the story of these pieces. You never know for sure where they’ve been or who loved them before, but the fun is in trying to solve those mysteries and piece those stories together.”

That’s where Courtville’s podcast comes in. Now finished its fourth season, Gem Pursuit illuminates the magical and mysterious world of antique and vintage jewellery. The 25 episodes to date have covered precious gemstones, the major time periods and the big jewellery houses. Weldon says they’re only just getting started.

“We weren’t sure when we started the podcast on antique jewellery what the uptake would be,” he says, “but we’ve had immense response to it and we’re only scratching the surface of where we think this can go.”

By finding innovative ways to use Instagram, TikTok and podcasts, Courtville has forged its way into the global market: a sliver lining after a very turbulent year. 

“If you were to sit in the shop and look out the window, you would be waiting a long time for a thousand people to walk by,” he says. “But on TikTok we had several hundred thousand people engaging with our videos and looking at our pieces and you just can’t ignore that type of exposure.”

To find out more about all things Courtville, including the podcast, go to www.courtville.ie