Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

Designer, Irish craft jeweller and goldsmith Garrett Mallon has been working with precious metals and gemstones for over 25 years. With an open studio on the shores of Carlingford Lough, his pieces are inspired by songs, stories and childhood memories - evoking Irish myths and legends and the hazy days of childhood.

Photo of Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

Having worked in Dublin in jewellery production, making traditional Irish jewellery forms such as the Claddagh ring and Celtic trinity knots, Garrett says that he was keen to develop his own distinctive style when he launched his own brand. “I felt that I wanted my pieces to still have an Irish theme of sorts, but that I wanted the story behind those designs to be important.”

Photo of Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

Garrett’s designs are inspired by his Irish childhood, by Celtic stories such as The Luck Child and songs such as The Voyage by Johnny Duhan (made popular by singer Christy Moore) and therefore, there is a sense of originality in his designs whilst, in a less obvious way perhaps, a sense of Irish-ness.

Jewellery is bought on emotion. There’s a huge amount of emotional attachment to the purchase of jewellery

“The Daisy Days piece from my Sunny Days (sterling silver and 18 carat gold vermeil) collection is based on memories of making daisy chains as a child," says the designer. "My Grandfather was the local Headmaster in Omeath in Co. Louth and was an avid gardener, but he always left the daisies in the front garden for us to make daisy chains with when we visited him. My jewellery is often about those little memories that make you smile and people really respond to that. Jewellery is bought on emotion. There’s a huge amount of emotional attachment to the purchase of jewellery.”

Photo of Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

“I’ve pieces based on Queen Meabh or St. Brigid, or modern ranges based around the themes of flowers or water,” says Garrett. “One of my first collections, Cloicin, was based on the stoney shores of Carlingford Lough where my studio is now.”

Photo of Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

As well producing his various Irish craft jewellery ranges, Garrett also makes bespoke items of jewellery for private clients whereby he works with customers to make custom items to suit their particular requirements. “I have a range of unusual stones in my collection and work with clients to discuss what they want and to design a piece for them based on what they want in terms of a piece of jewellery.”

It's lovely to see the person's expression when they see the finished piece

Garrett also remodels jewellery. “I do a certain amount of remodelling whereby people come to me with a much loved piece of jewellery that may have belonged to their mother or grandmother or with, for example, their husband’s wedding ring - pieces that have huge sentimental value but that they can’t wear themselves,” he says.

Photo of Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

“I get a lot out of this process - those pieces have a huge emotional tie for people and it’s nice to see somebody’s expression when they see the finished piece that we’ve worked on together.” Garrett photographs each step of the process for his clients so that they can see the transformation of their existing piece to their new piece of jewellery: “They can see where the piece started, see me removing the stones and melting down the metal and so on. It helps them realise the process.”

Photo of Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

In his studio at The Carlingford Design House, Garrett also runs a range of jewellery classes in which members of the public can learn to make a silver ring or pendant. He also provides a wedding ring workshop several times a year in which couples can, with his help, make their own wedding rings. “People are amazed and delighted when they can walk away with something they’ve made themselves having had little or no experience of making or designing," he says.

People who buy craft are buying into the craftsperson - it’s vitally important to tell the story of that person

Garrett’s studio is in a space surrounded by glass in the middle of his shop and people can view him at work while browsing his own collection and the work of 75 other designers and makers from across Ireland, both north and south of the border.

“It’s very important to me that the work is all made in Ireland. I know 90 percent of the makers personally and so I’m able to tell customers about where and how they make their products - whether it’s at their kitchen table or in a shed at the back of their house. You’re telling a story. People who buy craft are buying into the craftsperson - it’s vitally important to tell the story of that person.”

Photo of Garrett Mallon: Handmade Irish Jewellery on the shores of Carlingford Lough

Many of Garrett’s customers come from across Ireland as well as from Canada and the USA. “The studio has become a bit of a tourist attraction. I’ll be working away at the bench and I might look up and there will be five people looking at me through the glass,” he laughs. “I’m constantly chatting to people as a result. I love talking to the people who visit the shop.”

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