For the first time in history, an Irish jewellery maker will showcase his works at auction in the US. Mayo-based jewellery designer and goldsmith Nigel O’Reilly will have jewels included in Sotheby’s live auction in New York. In the face of a global pandemic creating uncertainty with many small businesses who depend on international trade for expansion, the inclusion of two of Nigel O’Reilly’s pieces in the renowned auction house’s October sale marks a progressive step forward towards ‘the new normal’ for private business in Ireland.
Nigel has cultivated a reputation as an advocate for establishing and running a high-craft luxury business in rural Ireland. In February this year, he was invited to speak on a panel about the topic with Ireland’s Edge/Other Voices and Forbes US. O’Reilly has always maintained the idea that the West of Ireland is an under-utilised access point between the US and the rest of Europe. Its allure attracts visitors to his studio. Prior to the pandemic, O’Reilly cultivated a talented network of celebrity and high net worth clients, creative business people and an agent on the ground in New York’s Chrysler Building, all of which have paved the way for this rehabilitation of his international trade during an uncertain time.
His jewellery has been highlighted internationally in the Financial Times (How to Spend It), Town & Country, FORBES and also worn by celebrities including Saoirse Ronan. Exceptional diamond engagement rings still form the bulk of O’Reilly’s repertoire for individual clients.
O’Reilly’s bespoke craftsmanship will be represented in Sotheby’s by two items from his haute-joaillerie collection. Both rings were carefully hand-selected by Frank Everett, Sotheby’s Senior Vice President of High Jewellery in New York, who has quoted O’Reilly ‘as a young designer to watch’ in a recent interview.
The ‘Damask Rose’; folded velvet petals featuring 757 individually hand set rubies, embracing an inner central 0.54ct pear cut diamond. This floral ring is a stunning arrangement on the hand, its green tsavorite garnet leaves sit along the finger; is set in 18kt rose gold. This ring is inspired by nature and beauty in the West of Ireland, a rose among the fields of grass and moss on the Atlantic’s edge.
The Damask Rose Ring will be accompanied by ‘Plato’s Garnet’; a ring inspired by O’Reilly’s interest in beekeeping through which he has observed the strong structure of honeycomb and how its natural pattern allows a hive community to thrive. The octagonal spaces in this ring were designed as perfect repositories for pollen-like jewels (pink sapphires, rubies and cognac diamonds specifically), glinting with sparkle and warmth, making a feature along the body of the ring. The central 10.69ct umbalite garnet was cut by Erwin Springbrunn, (a renowned German master who mentored Nigel as an apprentice; crafted pieces for Elizabeth Taylor. Erwin’s works are part of the National Gallery of Ireland collection). The garnet is unusually faceted on all sides, allowing for deep cerise pink tones and fleeting contrasts, a perfect stone with great depth and character.
O’Reilly has spent the past decade creating works for some of the world’s most luxurious jewellery houses in Stockholm and London. In 2009, he founded his studio in the West of Ireland, where he works only to technical perfection, using both innovative technology and ancient tradition to ensure that every angle of every piece is open to microscopic scrutiny.
See Nigel O’Reilly for more information.