In Eire, Obsessed With Jewelry

Nigel O’Reilly explained he was “chuffed to pieces” in October when his get the job

Nigel O’Reilly explained he was “chuffed to pieces” in October when his get the job done was showcased at Sotheby’s Vital Jewels auction in New York.

His Damask Rose ring, which bought for $25,200, was shaped like the flower, with a diamond centerpiece surrounded by ruby petals and leaves pavéd with 757 tsavorite garnets. A second ring, termed Plato’s Garnet, highlighted a 10.69-carat garnet and was adorned with 220 orange and pink sapphires, pink and green diamonds and tsavorite garnets. It sold for $18,900.

“I’m overjoyed just to have been provided,” mentioned Mr. O’Reilly, 38. “Most of the other parts on sale were being quite regular — mine weren’t. It’s a validation for my other customers who have invested in some thing unusual.”

Jewellery was an unanticipated vocation for Mr. O’Reilly, whose family members raised cattle on a farm in Claremorris, in western Ireland, his youth comprehensive of tractors and Gaelic Athletic Affiliation soccer.

The only jewellery in the property, he stated, was his mother’s engagement ring and wedding day band.

It wasn’t an arty domestic, but Mr. O’Reilly felt an affinity for vogue, first kindled by an fascination in soccer jerseys. “I just cherished that AC Milan strip, black and crimson,” he remembered fondly. He had a notebook in which he made his possess jerseys.

He also was passionate about music, and his design and style was influenced by idols like David Bowie. “I bought in trouble for coming to college with ripped denims and blue hair, which wasn’t truly truthful,” he claimed, “when other boys were environment hearth to the creating.”

Mr. O’Reilly’s main obstacle at college was his serious dyslexia. “That was not wonderful,” he explained. But, with the support of his mother, a teacher, he endured, and in secondary university he concentrated on realistic topics like design and woodwork. Right after college, he commenced a 4-calendar year apprenticeship in precision engineering and automation.

By 22, Mr. O’Reilly was functioning for Sigma, a health care provides company in Galway, building high-precision coronary heart valves from an indestructible stainless metal. “I was toolmaking injection molds for use in vascular medical procedures, doing work in microns, .001 of a millimeter,” he said. “And for the reason that these had been vascular products, there was no space for error.”

Keen to make an impression on a younger artist named Tracy Sweeney, Mr. O’Reilly produced a ring for her from the steel he made use of for the coronary heart valves. “She was so amazing, and I was just a tool maker,” he recalled. “I wanted to impress her.”

He did — so much that she recommended him to make jewelry for a living. And they married.

In 2006, the few moved to Kilkenny, in the southeastern portion of the place, and Mr. O’Reilly enrolled in the Craft Council of Ireland’s Goldsmithing Techniques class taught by Jane Huston, an acclaimed Irish goldsmith and gemologist. Ms. Sweeney supplemented their revenue by establishing photographic prints at a pharmacy.

The course ran from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every weekday, but Mr. O’Reilly would fortunately keep in the studio right until 10 at night time. “I absolutely fell in like with jewellery, and it turned an obsession,” he stated. His talent was pointed out, and two of Ireland’s learn jewelers, Erwin Springbrunn and Rudolf Heltzel, turned his mentors. (Mr. Springbrunn died in 2016, Mr. Heltzel in April.)

Mr. Springbrunn — who experienced established jewelry for Elizabeth Taylor — also had qualified as a lapidary and collected and cut scarce and vibrant jewels from about the planet. Mr. O’Reilly stated he adopted Mr. Springbrunn’s technique to the perform. “Erwin was all about the come to feel,” he said. “You have to go with how it feels.”

In early 2008, Mr. O’Reilly went to function whole time for Mr. Heltzel, who specialized in sculptural items working with antique methods and applications. But the subsequent year, he and Ms. Sweeney moved to Stockholm so he could pursue an interest in adapting modern-day technologies to enrich his jewellery.

There, he examined with Michael O’Dwyer, a celebrated gem setter, to master the ability of placing gems below a microscope, a hallmark of higher jewellery producing.

“I was discovering pavé,” Mr. O’Reilly stated, “a technique in which you established stones in little claws, invisible to the bare eye.” But he desired his personal purchasers to make a living: “Stockholm was good but tough. We were living on almost nothing.”

Ms. Sweeney finally sold some of her artwork to support with the funds and Mr. O’Reilly before long turned an achieved gem setter, sought just after by jewellery properties like Fabergé, Garrard and Boodles.

Then they had a toddler and, “much as we appreciated Stockholm, it was not home,” he explained. So following a few several years, they returned to Eire.

From a bedroom in a rural aspect of western Ireland, his bench beside the baby’s cot, Mr. O’Reilly did perform for Britain’s prestigious Bond Avenue jewelers. “I’d be seeing, say, ‘The Graham Norton Show’, and there’d be some actress on and I’d comprehend, ‘Hey! I created her earrings!’” he mentioned.

As the cash permitted, Mr. O’Reilly slowly acquired gems from Mr. Springbrunn’s collection and labored on his possess models. “Jewelry is intended to be creative but loads of it is just monotonous and mass-produced,” he claimed. “It’s not blowing minds.”

Now, Mr. O’Reilly will work only his own layouts, frequently featuring intricate latticework and glowing with daring colour. Eighty percent of his product sales, he mentioned, come from term of mouth, and he has dedicated collectors. His rings and earrings have been worn by Saoirse Ronan and Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, the eldest daughter of Prince Albert II of Monaco and a granddaughter of Grace Kelly, whose household experienced roots in County Mayo.

3 many years ago, Mr. O’Reilly established up a studio and store in Castlebar. “I required it to be as technically state-of-the-art as Switzerland or Italy,” he said. “It’s about the appropriate gear with the correct strategies. You come in this door and you’re not in Castlebar any more you’re wanting at a $100,000 ring and it’s a great as everything from London, New York or Paris.”

Mr. O’Reilly’s models often are influenced by new music or vogue: Alexander McQueen was a distinct inspiration, as was Mr. Bowie. The singer’s Ziggy Stardust persona, for example, was the spark at the rear of Mr. O’Reilly’s Molecular Cloud, a ring with a huge central moonstone surrounded by eight amethyst cabochons, 230 graduated pink sapphires and 48 rubies.

And he encourages shoppers to imagine over and above diamonds and classic design and style: “Sometimes a customer will glimpse at a topaz, then Google it and say, ‘A topaz isn’t that expensive’ and I’ll go, ‘No, just appear at this stone — the shade, the clarity.’”

Final calendar year, Mr. O’Reilly showed some of his perform to Frank Everett, senior vice president, product sales director of Sotheby’s Jewellery Office in New York. “I had 15 pieces,” Mr. O’Reilly stated, and the executive chose the two rings for auction.

Mr. O’Reilly then used a great deal of Ireland’s to start with coronavirus lockdown, from March to July, doing work on new pieces. One particular illustration, termed Seed Requires Flight, is a ring with a 14.8-millimeter golden South Sea pearl in an unusually deep 18-karat gold mount to accommodate the huge pearl. It is embellished with 881 separately set tsavorite garnets, blue sapphires, rubies and yellow diamonds.

He mentioned that he hadn’t bought any marriage ceremony rings not too long ago — Eire began a 6-week lockdown in late Oct and ceremonies are minimal to 25 attendees — but that desire had been superior for his bespoke engagement rings, which start out at fewer than $10,000.

As for his mother, “she has a little bit extra jewelry now, absolutely nothing insane,” he claimed, “but you’d glance at the pink morganite pendant.”