The crumbling remains of 13th century Dunluce Castle in Ireland is precariously flanked by steep cliffs.
Like many castles, the fortress' history is filled with long years of transitioning ownership with Scottish clans vying for rights to the property. Ireland is also home to featured jewelry designer Alan Ardiff.
For the last 16 years Irish jewelry designers have continually veered away from the world-renowned intricate cable and knot work patterns in order to provide international markets, particularly the United States of America, with modernized designs reflecting a variety of techniques, materials, and themes.
Ardiff's items of 18-karat gold, enamel, sterling silver, and gemstones highlight kinetic movement in designs reminiscent of the collections from Scottish designers Julie Allison and Zoe Bassi.
In the manner of his Scottish contemporaries, he configures his designs much like a child's drawing with clear shapes and vivid colors; this aspect provides easy whimsy, purity, and innocence.
His inclusion of moving parts, such as the leaping fish in his Jumpin' Fish Necklace, and the pecking bird of his Early Bird Necklace adds a nice touch of humor.
With such items as his Key to My Heart Necklace, the theme of many of Ardiff's pieces is romance and love. In these items, the kinetic element maintains the subtext of humor, while also creating a palpable sweetness. The buoyancy and joy of each of Ardiff's pieces seems to tell a fanciful story.
Interestingly, when the painter and sculptor launched his line in 1994 it coincided with the Crafts Council of Ireland's move to encourage contemporary designs.
The Crafts Council created a four-year training program that emphasizes pushing creative boundaries through varied jewelry-making techniques and exposure to global aesthetics.
Photo 1 (top right): 18-Karat Gold, Sterling Silver and Enamel Jumpin' Fish Pendant
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold, Sterling Silver and Gemstone Door to My Heart Pendant