Emanuel Challenges Irish Design’s Stereotypes

Swimming in the sea of traditional Irish jewelry—from well-known Celtic knots to beloved Claddagh rings—are talented yet largely undiscovered Emerald Isle jewelry designers. This younger generation of Irish jewelers faces a difficult challenge: breaking the international stereotype of Irish jewels by diverting attention from the country’s ethnic jewelry and refocusing it on their own modern and design-oriented collections.

Kevin Emanuel, an unassuming designer whose creative—yet highly wearable—pieces often are overlooked by international buyers shopping for Ireland’s ethnic designs, serves as a prime example of such new talent in the Irish market.

Originally from London, where he trained in jewelry design, Emanuel moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 1992 and has been designing jewelry for his own collection for about four years. His background includes stints as both a freelancer and an in-house designer for various jewelers, including London’s Collingwood and E. Wolfe.

Today, the designer has his own diverse yet cohesive collection—one that shows not only skilled design but also an understanding of both fashion and comfort. His collection is sold primarily in Ireland, England, and Scotland, but Emanuel is looking to expand his international business throughout Europe and the United States.

The designer’s collection is varied in design but comprehensive in its mastery of form and function. Classic motifs—geometric shapes, for example—are complemented by organic, flowing forms in a collection that easily mixes gold’s various colors and texture possibilities. All are minimalist without being austere.

Emanuel focuses primarily on 18k gold with diamond accents and semiprecious stones—namely pink sapphire, aquamarine, and peridot. He also has the capability to produce any of the pieces in platinum, he says.

The designer creates with a younger woman in mind. The target audience for the collection is the 20- to 40-year-old demographic, he says, although the classic lines are easily adapted to any age group.

In a departure from many Irish designers—even those already thinking beyond traditional Celtic designs—Emanuel’s collection shows a globally minded design style that is easily translated abroad. He creates, he said, with a certain woman in mind—a young executive; a woman who can purchase her own jewelry as a fashion accessory.

This mindset shows in the versatility of the collection, the ability to mix and match from the various lines Emanuel has created, and sets of stack rings that offer women interesting options.