Giving jewellery this Christmas? Don’t buy anything until you read this

Jewel personalities: the gift of jewellery to someone special can bring untold pleasure

The biggest gifts often come in the smallest boxes. They could be the famous blue ones tied with white ribbons (Tiffany) or the red ones (Cartier) or pink (Boodles) but whatever the colour, pocket sized shapes often promise exciting surprises within. At this most sociable and festive time of year when decoration is at its height, giving a gift of jewellery to someone special can be a gesture that brings particular pleasure. It’s a season of sparkle and shine after all.

Chandelier earrings or big hooped party girl affairs have been the big trends this winter. Ear cuffs and studs were noticeable on the catwalks as well as new ways with pearls and recycled materials (NB If buying for a friend, make sure you know whether she has pierced ears or not). Stacked rings (know the right size) along with mix and match earrings are other ways to ramp up the decor without looking like a Christmas tree.

Irish jewellery design is flourishing, both from established practitioners and interesting newcomers. Two Irish sisters from Cork based in London, for example, believe diamonds are for faking with their brand called Brilliant Inc.

Their manmade lookalikes are uncannily like the real thing with dazzling sparkle, some examples of which are shown above.


Amanda Brady of Juno James hand crochets silver wire into stunning cuffs and necklaces, and cleverly uses vintage finds to make unique pieces. Find her in the Design House on Dawson Street, Dublin.

Chupi, now selling even on Aer Lingus, continues to wow with her vermeil, gold plated affordable, quirky jewellery while Stonechat in the Westbury Centre will remodel vintage or inherited pieces.

Design House and Om Diva offer lighthearted, colourful items that lift the spirits and are easy on the purse while MoMuse in the Powerscourt Centre and the new So Collective in Drury Street keep prices affordable too.

In Dublin city centre, long established serious players like Weirs, John Brereton and Boodles are favoured destinations for fine jewellery and where well heeled females who like to buy investment items for themselves make a beeline. There is also a vogue for commissioning special pieces from modern independent artisan makers like Beatriz Palacios (Atrium), Maureen Lynch or Natasha Sherling known for her fine, handcrafted gold, diamond and pearl jewellery.

Those with a more artistic avant garde bent will be drawn to the work of Angela O Kelly and Julie Connellan who use materials like paper, nylon, rubber and even turf for their contemporary handcrafted sculptural pieces. For Art Deco and antique pieces, John Farrington in Drury Street or Courtville Antiques in Powerscourt have interesting finds.

Around the country jewellery thrives. In Castlebar, Co Mayo talented Nigel O Reilly (winner of this year’s RDS Craft Award) who trained in London, Antwerp and Stockholm has just opened a luxury studio. The Cat & Moon in Sligo is where Martina Hamilton sells her work; in Galway, Cobwebs is known for antique and modern desirable pieces; in Cork Tuula Harrington and Enibas have a loyal following. Here’s a selection of some spangled winners from €25 upwards.