Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Gold Plated Antique Brass Agate
Bombshell Ring with Spikes
Waterford has the distinction of being Ireland’s oldest city so there is plenty of interesting sights to see.  The metropolis’ city hall, Waterford City Hall, is a remarkable vision of stunning 18th century architecture.

For those craving natural attractions you can relax on the beautiful golden sands of Dunmore East Beach.  Ireland is also home to featured jewelry designer Merle O’Grady.

Contemporary Irish jewelry designers like Alan Ardiff, Slim Barrett, and O’Grady resolutely deviate from traditional Irish styles of cables, shamrocks and Cladaggh rings.

Although I really love the power and lyricism of the traditional styles, I also enjoy discovering Irish jewelry designers such as O’Grady who bring a bold finesse to her jewelry collections.

Make no mistake O’Grady’s aesthetic is not for the faint of heart.  The visual language of murky antique brass, distressed steel and antique silver as well as the linear, sharp outlines of pendant necklaces like Dogstar, Templo, and Arrow makes for jewelry that is clearly not girly or sweet.

Saying that, however, is not to suggest the jewelry lacks appeal.  Swarovski Crystals in tones of Light Rose, Jet, Iridescent Green, and Golden Shadow complement this stunning marriage of distressed, vintage design with futuristic overtones.

Antique Brass Window Pendant Necklace with
Swarovski Crystals
The Dublin-based designer’s entry into the accessory world of fashion began quite unexpectedly when she “stumbled across a bucket of 18th century chandelier crystals in a dark corner of an architectural salvage yard.  I could not resist creating pieces with antique crystals.” 

Four years later, in 2008, she launched her self-titled jewelry brand.  O’Grady’s reserve of inspiration is an eclectic one ranging from mid-century architecture to Palm Springs opulence to pylons to Kandinsky abstract prints.

Metallic fangs, talons and spikes accentuate drop earrings, collar necklaces, and cuff bracelets.  There is a wonderful makeshift quality to her designs that evokes a post-apocalyptic wasteland (i.e. Book of Eli).  Jewelry components have the appearance of found objects refashioned into stark yet glamorous items that eradicate the opulence of days long gone.

“I have an obsession with futuristic styling and industrial materials.  I adore strong, defined shapes.   Eighty percent of my creative process is in the rough.  I play with different proportions, colors and components so the designs happen organically.  My style is edgy yet feminine and each piece is made by hand with love and care.”

O’Grady’s striking punk jewelry collections have adorned and supplemented the flamboyant styles of such entertainers as Beyoncé, Pixie Lott, Kelly Rowland and Rihanna; and selections from her jewelry brand have also graced the pages of fashion magazines including InStyle, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar.

Antique Brass Fang Cuff Bracelet with
Swarovski Crystals
2013 Jewelry Trend Alert:   O’Grady pours it on with colored metal surfaces, and strong geometric patterns.

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