Jewellery has become a national obsession. While the rest of the world might be layering jewellery because it's 'a look', we in Ireland do it because we love wearing all our 'bits', eschewing favouritism for one brand over another.
We are especially fond of our own Irish brands and designers, which have become more fashion-savvy, contemporary and internationally recognised in recent years. Many of these can be found in the Kilkenny shops, which are nationwide, and also online.
Kilkenny's landmark shop on Nassau Street (which has a wonderful cafe - always good to know, I feel, as shopping is tiring work) has recently overhauled its jewellery area to best show off Ireland's most talented, and to share their unique stories with us.
Jewellers, like animators, spend a lot of their time focused on tiny little objects, while working alone in a small space (most often). Thus, they have a unique, at times quirky, eye on life, and this is often infused into their work.
Jo Harpur is a Dublin jeweller clearly inspired by both fashion and having a sense of humour. She called her latest collection 'Mr Heartache' and dedicated it to women who feel "that although someone has been less than careful with the dignity of your soul, this colleen is far from beaten".
The best cure for a broken heart? Some self-respect-enhancing, decorative beauty by Jo Harpur! And what a triumph of strength and fun that collection is.
Chupi (featured left), loved by young and old, is an innovative, romantic designer. She is inspired by the natural world, be it a swan's feather found by the banks of Dublin's Grand Canal, to the stars in the heavens. Her latest project is beautiful - Dublin-crafted notebooks and stationary.
What surprised me when I visited Kilkenny Nassau Street's new jewellery hall was the variety of styles and prices - from silver, gold and rose-gold plate pieces to fine jewellery such as that by architecture-inspired designer Jill Graham, and sophisticated pieces by Maureen Lynch. There are fashion ranges such as Scribble & Stone, to ranges for the dedicated collector, such as Alan Ardiff.
Alan Ardiff - practically a national treasure in his own right for his humorous work, and for paving the way for other jewellers to take things a little less seriously - is celebrating 25 years with the Kilkenny shops. He has recreated his first ever kinetic jewellery piece, in a limited edition, just for them. Exclusive is always desirable - in fashion, in life.
Photography by Emily Quinn
Styling by Carmel Daly
Fashion edited by Constance Harris