A jewel of a course with a 95% employment rate

Eimear Conyard, Jewellery & Goldsmithing Course Manager/Tutor with joint Students of the Course 2013 Sophie Broadhead and Miriam Wade pictured at the official opening of Crafts Council of Ireland Graduate Jewellery Exhibition at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny. Photo: Pat Moore.
The National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny is exhibit work by the 12 talented 2013 graduates of the internationally renowned Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills and Design Course run by the Crafts Council of Ireland.

The National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny is exhibit work by the 12 talented 2013 graduates of the internationally renowned Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills and Design Course run by the Crafts Council of Ireland.

The exhibition was officially opened on Friday 19th July by Dr. Alison Fitzgerald, a lecturer in the history department at the National University of Ireland Maynooth and an expert in jewellery and silversmithing and allied trades in Ireland. Running until Sunday, Augustbv4 the exhibition showcases the high level of craftsmanship and skills acquired by the graduates over the last two years and features exquisite pieces of jewellery in gold, palladium, silver and precious gem stones.

The 12 students emerging from the intensive, two-year full time programme have honed their expertise and craft with some of Ireland’s and Europe’s most highly skilled silversmiths and goldsmiths through master classes and work placements. Unique to the Kilkenny programme is the fact that students work solely in precious metals and have been encouraged to push boundaries in technique and innovative designs.

The course has a 90% employment rate. The 2013 graduates, many of whom have made a dramatic career change to become jewellery makers, will go on to gain employment within the jewellery trade in Ireland, while others intend to set up their own businesses. They include a former project manager, fashion design graduate, plumber, software developer and architecture graduate.

Running for three weeks only, the exhibition offers visitors to the gallery an opportunity to admire the work of Ireland’s emerging jewellery designers. The beautiful creations on display include:

• An exquisite collection of 12 clocks finely constructed from sheet metal, showcasing each student’s technical ability and individual design aesthetics. They range from minimalist geometric hollow forms to decorative designs incorporating enamel.

• Twelve brooches produced using advanced traditional fine jewellery techniques and the modern technology of laser welding. Each piece drew its inspiration from a different decade between 1880 and 1990.

• Twelve rings in 18 carat gold or palladium set with a single coloured gemstone.

Eimear Conyard, course manager and tutor, said the course challenged the students but their steadfast commitment, passion and creativity has resulted in an exhibition of exceptional work. “The complexity of the pieces on display demonstrates an ability to create work that pushes the boundaries of jewellery design. The final project work in the exhibition reflects each graduate’s signature style and their individual technical ability. They should feel very proud of what they have achieved and I wish them the very best for the future.”

Karen Hennessy, the chief executive of the Crafts Council of Ireland said the course’s previous record of 90% employment is testament to the relevance of the two-year programme. “This course was established 20 years ago in response to the demands of the sector for skilled training in jewellery design and making. The programme is designed to equip students with the practical skills to develop careers in the jewellery industry. Our graduates emerge from the course not only with technical abilities but also with experience of the commercial realities of running a craft business such as working to deadlines and commissioning budgets. We look forward to continuing to work with these graduates in the future as registered craft enterprises.”

Applications were received from all over Europe for the forthcoming 2013 – 2015 programme of this unique course. The twelve successful applicants have already been offered and confirmed acceptance of their places on the programme which commences in September.

John Tynan, Head of Education, Training and Development at the Crafts Council of Ireland said the course has established an excellent reputation both nationally and internationally. “Our course, which is accredited by the National University of Ireland Maynooth, provides students with a comprehensive induction to the commercial world of jewellery design and making and has the potential to be life changing for them. We wish each graduate every success in their future career.”

The jewellery graduate exhibition runs at the National Craft Gallery, Castle Yard, Kilkenny until Sunday, August 4. Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday: 10am to 5.30pm; Sunday: 11am – 5.30pm