Wednesday 21 March 2018

Diamonds aren't forever - how Irish women are doing it their own way with their jewellery

Irish jewellery designer Margaret O'Rourke is a living recession success story

Margaret O'Rourke of MoMuse. Picture: Ruth Medjber
Margaret O' Rourke of MoMuse
MoMuse boutique
MoMuse boutique
MoMuse boutique
MoMuse boutique
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Sisters really are doing it for themselves.

While most of us might have to wait years for someone to buy us a diamond, others are taking the reins and buying it for themselves – they’re not waiting for a fiancé or partner, but treating themselves.

Margaret O’Rourke, founder of MoMuse jewellery, is all too familiar with what women are looking for when it comes to jewellery shopping and with the launch of her new fine jewellery range, she has seen her customer base evolve into a rather diverse shopper: Irish women, men, couples and a new influx of Americans to her store at Powerscourt Town Centre thanks to a game-changing recommendation by the New York Times in July.

When it comes to big purchases like sapphires or topaz or gold bands, it’s almost always 100% Irish.  

“There are so many different categories of customers,” she tells Style.

“Some women are married and have their kids, and they don’t wear their wedding or engagement ring anymore. There’s lovely lady, a yoga instructor; her husband keeps buying her a black stacking ring each Christmas, she keeps adding every year instead of her engagement ring.

“When people get engaged or married, they pay a fortune for a ring and then suddenly their budget is gone. One couple in particular wanted a simple ring and preferred to put it on a big holiday or into their house. People are more into the experience of travelling and having a beautiful house, rather than having a big rock.

“Then you have some women who come in and say, ‘I’ve always wanted a really nice ring, but I don’t want to pay a fortune for it’. There’s a lot of cash for gold and people have break-ins: they want something they can wear all the time, not something you’re not wearing, a waste of money.”

Some fashion followers will already be familiar with MoMuse, the brand has been around since 2009 and has a dedicated fan base among Irish fashion journalists, editors and bloggers. But the pieces are moving beyond cult status into mainstream success with an ever-growing expansion that comes from the same signatures of all small business owners: blood, sweat and tears.

“This has gradually happened over the last couple of years, gold stacking rings, gem ones, I’ve been slowly building without pushing it,” she explains.

“I have a whole new customer. The millennials as they’re calling them, they’re totally moving away from the traditional. One young couple, they were doing their whole wedding from scratch and the bride didn’t want a diamond so they bought a gold band.

“The whole experience is quite relaxed. I’m not trying to criticise jewellers but I’m hearing not very nice stories. One particular couple told me they went to a store and they started with a €33,000diamond ring, so anything else you looked at then wouldn’t be what you want.

“Next year, I’ll probably create a new area in the shop to make a little more personal.”

MoMuse HQ is a haven for Irish accessories designers and it’s only fitting as the store was first launched as Bow eight years ago alongside other Irish creatives, while Ireland was “deep in the recession”, as Margaret calls.

“The business is 12 years old - we started in 2009 here deep in recession in a shop double this size called Bow, where a couple of designers got together and it grew slowly. It was a nice experience because there was no pressure, no long lease. I had a little corner in the shop that grew and grew.

“The highlight of the year was being featured in the New York Times’ shopping list - it’s put me on the international radar as well. I’ve had so many Americans in.

“It means a lot to me to stock as much Irish as I can. After the recession, I think we’ve all learned a lot more.”

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