Georgina Heffernan catches up with Irish jeweller Mette O'Connor for a chat.
Georgina Heffernan: Please tell us about your background in jewellery?
Mette O'Connor: My first experience making jewellery was in Denmark when I was 14 and did work experience with a beading craft worker. The love for creativity stayed with me and took me to an apprenticeship as a jeweler in Australia, where I also discovered the amazing world of gemstones.
Love took me to Ireland, where I was fortunate enough to do the jewellery skills course in Kilkenny with the Crafts Council of Ireland - a brilliant course that taught me the traditional skills of an artisan goldsmith. As well as training as a goldsmith I studied gemology (gemstone knowledge) and diamond grading and am certified in both.
What is your design process?
I do and have always done an awful lot of drawing. It keeps me sane and relaxes me - this I hope is presented in my jewellery.
However, my passion lies in all the aspects of creating the piece. My inspiration can sprout from anywhere - a dewdrop in my daughter’s hair, a treasure of seaweed collected by my son, a shadow on a leaf or a sparkling gemstone purchased abroad.
After sketching, I chose my metal, cut it, fold it, hammer it, solder it, texture it and lastly set the stones. There is an immense joy in completing the whole process.
What have been some of your favourite jewellery pieces you've created and why?
“Lace” would be very high on the list - it was a real labour of love. A very ornate neckpiece and matching arm ring, made from silver, hand engraved with patterns inspired by Victorian gun engraving and lace. It took 6 months to complete and ended up being part of an exhibition at the Hunt Museum in Limerick.
Would you ever consider collaborating with a fashion designer?
Absolutely! working with another creative person can only sprout new exciting ideas
What's been the highlight of your career to-date?
Opening my shop AMOC on the main street in Greystones, County Wicklow. Being part of the Adornment: a special art photography project combining the work of photographer Agata Stoinska and producer/art director Eddie Shanahan to celebrate the artistic quality and craftsmanship of contemporary Irish jewellery and accessories.
Which jewellery designers do you admire?
Elsa Peretti, Vivian Torun Bulow-Hube, Todd Reed, Nanna Ditzel, Inga Reed.
What is your ultimate ambition? Where do you see yourself in the future?
I would love to open a gallery specifically for jewellery designers, showing and sharing the immense talent within this trade that often is overseen in this commercial world.
In a short space of time I have learned a lot from people who have been happy to share their experiences with me - I would like to do the same for others that have the same passion for this wonderful traditional trade.
This is where I see myself in the future... still doing what I love - designing and making unique pieces of jewellery that gives other people joy and sharing the making process with those who have the same desire to create something beautiful from the earth’s wondrous materials. Following these paths could bring me anywhere.