Designer, 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 in the North East of Ireland, his pieces are inspired by songs, stories and childhood memories evoking Irish myths and legends and the hazy days of childhood. Having worked in Dublin in jewellery production making traditional Irish jewellery forms such as the Claddagh ring and the Celtic tri-fold knot, 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.”
Garrett’s designs are inspired by his Irish childhood, by Celtic stories such as The Luck Child or songs such as The Voyage by Johnny Duhan (made popular by singer Christy Moore) and therefore there is a sense of originality in their designs whilst, at the same time, a sense of Irishness. “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. My Grandfather was the local Headmaster, and was an avid gardener, but he always left the daisies in the front garden so we could make daisy chains when we visited. It’s about 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.”
“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. Cloicίn, was based on the stoney shores of Carlingford Lough where my studio is now.” In his studio at The Carlingford Design House, Garrett also runs a range of jewellery classes during 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 he says.”
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 out the back of their house. You’re telling a story. People that buy craft are buying the person - it’s vitally important to tell the story of that person.”
For Showcase 2019, Garrett Mallon will present a new collection with a more contemporary feel entitled Embrace. Retaining the idea of an emotional collection, the new collection features either a 9ct gold heart or semi-precious stones such as amethyst, citrine and blue topaz. “The focus with this collection is to embrace those you love and to remember to love yourself, which is why I have used amethyst - traditionally associated with clarity of mind, spirituality, healing and protective powers,” says Mallon. “I have also used citrine which reflects the colour of the sun and brings joy, energy and positivity as well as blue topaz - the deep blue colour of which invokes calm and which is often associated with loyalty and love.