Some good news this week – under the cloud of Covid – was that Mayo-based jewellery designer Nigel O’Reilly made history, when two of his creations sold at Sotheby’s Important Jewels sale for a combined €37,217, making him the first Irish jewellery designer to feature in a Sotheby’s New York sale.
It is also testament to the fact that cities are not the only centres of creativity when it comes to design, and that a work-life balance can be achieved from almost anywhere.
While the rest of us do not have much balance at the moment, being confined to within 5km of our homes, birthdays, anniversaries and engagements still continue, as will whatever lies ahead for Christmas.
Large numbers of people are taking to the internet to purchase items, but the “Buy Local or Bye-Bye Local” slogan may well be the case if we do not support our local retailers.
Many antique jewellery dealers are for the first time using Instagram to showcase their treasures. The interactive platform allows people to comment, ask questions and share photographs and videos of coveted gems, and videos are particularly good as they capture pieces from all angles.
Here are some dealers on Instagram who cater for all budgets and dreams. To find the particular dealers listed below, just put the name in brackets into the search function on the app.
While John Farrington’s (johnfarringtonantiques) shop on Drury Street in Dublin remains closed, the antique dealer first took to Instagram during the last lockdown: “What I love about it is people can have an instant reaction to the pieces I post, share them with their friends, and it is really fabulous to see jewellery experts from all around the world complimenting our pieces. Not only that, people are actually buying after seeing our jewels on the platform, and we have developed both a national and international following.”
The Antique Rooms in Galway (theantiquesroomgalway) run by Niall Marren also has a good presence on the app. "When we were in the first lockdown we put much time and energy into creating a check-out page on our website. People can see the jewellery on Instagram and then buy pieces online through our website. It's working really well and generating lots of traffic."
Another Galway-based site worth looking at is Cobwebs (cobwebs_jewellery), as are Delphi Antiques (antiquesdelphi) and Courtville Antiques (matthew.weldons), both based in the Powerscourt Centre in Dublin.
The Irish Antiques Dealers Association (antiquesireland) also features and represent many dealers, not only of jewels but furniture and collectables, so if you find a piece, just contact the dealer and take it from there.
For smaller budgets, Vintage Finds You (vintagefindsyou), the online pre-loved couture and bespoke fashion site, sells accessories including art nouveau as well as antique paste jewellery from the 1950s to the 1980s. "We offer entry-level couture jewellery to add a bit of glam, be it an old Christian Dior necklace or a pair of cut-glass earrings from the 1950s," says Naomi Fitzgibbon who established her online business a decade ago.
Irish auction houses are also worth following on Instagram. O’Reilly’s on Francis Street (oreillysauctionrooms) always posts some beautiful pieces in advance of its monthly sales, as does Claire-Laurence Mestrallet (clm_adams_auctioneers) of Adam’s on St Stephen’s Green.
Be it to buy for yourself or a loved one, or indeed perchance to dream, consider supporting Irish retailers if you are in search of a gift over the coming festive season.