Advertising | Metro Eireann | Top News | Contact Us
Governor Uduaghan awarded the 2013 International Outstanding Leadership Award  •   South African Ambassador to leave  •   Roddy's back with his new exclusive "Brown-Eyed Boy"  •  
Print E-mail

FashionForward with Tolu Omoyele

Last update - Wednesday, August 15, 2012, 12:06 By Tolu Omoyele

Jewellery gold that’s anything but standard

Janice Byrne is a Dublin-based goldsmith who has built a reputation for excellence through the creation of masterfully crafted jewellery. She works with a variety of precious metals to create contemporary jewellery that is inspired by nature. When making her jewellery she seeks to uncover the often hidden detail in natural objects and translate it into metal. She is both skilful and knowledgeable in the art of metal fabrication, from filing and soldering to forging, casting, and polishing. Her JLB Jewellery brand is unique, individualistic, exclusively handmade and very fashion-forward…

Hi Janice! Can you tell us something about your background, and how you feel it prepared you for a career in design?
After my Leaving Cert I went on to study at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD). In second year I specialised in craft metal, which I suppose started me on my way to my career. At the end of second year I took a year off to travel; I never returned to NCAD after that.
When I got back from Australia I got a job working in one of Ireland’s largest jewellery manufacturers [and I] learned as much as I possibly could. After a couple of years there I went on to study jewellery manufacture and design in Kilkenny [on a] course run by the Craft Council of Ireland.
When I finished that I went back to my original employer and stayed there until I was made redundant in 2009, right before the birth of my son. When he was two years old, I set up my own business, JLB Jewellery. After my maternity leave was up I’d found it impossible to find work, so the next obvious step for me was to set up my own company.

What does the work of a goldsmith involve?
Basically it starts with an idea, which is translated to paper. From there, there are several different processes. Pieces are made from metal, which usually comes in sheet or wire form. Sometimes depending on the design you would begin with a wax carving and have it cast.

What material do you use for your jewellery making?
I use silver, gold, platinum, precious and semi-precious stones.

How many hours do you spend in making a piece?
It depends; it can range from a couple of hours to days. The large neckpiece I entered into a competition last year took four days. It all depends on the design of the piece.
It also depends on how detailed the design is. The design work itself doesn’t take that long, however it is the making of the design that requires a lot of time, excellent craftsmanship, a sharp eye and dexterity. Take a ring, for example: depending on the intricacy of the design, it usually takes up to two days.

What is the creative process like?
It can be quite challenging sometimes trying to come up with something that hasn’t been done before. I usually pick a starting point that interests me. I do some drawings and refine the drawings as I go along, until I am happy with the end result. I am really inspired by natural objects. The macabre intrigues me, too.

What drew you to starting your own line?
I had always loved making things so it was just natural progression. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else; I love it too much.

Where do you source your material?
I get and buy mainly from metal supply companies in Ireland and the UK. Stones come from all over the USA and Thailand.

Do you outsource any of your design work or you do everything yourself?
I design and make everything myself, from product design to execution.

What is your style?
My own style is casual, slightly alternative, slightly rockabilly.

Who is your fashion icon?
I love Kelly Osborne also Gwen Stefani.

Where do you sell your jewellery?
You can buy online on my website and I have a couple of stockists around the country. I do a lot of trade shows for brand visibility.

Who is your target market?
Anyone interested in exclusive handmade jewellery. I design and create jewellery for commission and commercially. The commercial ranges are quite tedious, the commission work isn’t. I would love to do commission work only but unfortunately that doesn’t come often enough to pay the bills.

What is the most difficult aspect in launching your own label, ie design, production, sales, finance, advertising?
It has to be finance. Not having the funding to get everything done the way it should be has been hardest for me, but in saying that, it
doesn’t mean it didn’t get done, it just took a bit longer to do and I had to think of different ways of doing it, too.

What do you most enjoy about your jewellery design career?
I just love being able to create beautiful things for people.

What is the Irish fashion design industry like, in your opinion?
I think it’s really starting to make a mark internationally and it is becoming really strong here too. More people are starting to take notice of home-grown talent.

What is your greatest design achievement as a goldsmith?
So far, it’s winning the overall ‘Best New Jewellery Product’ in January at the Showcase Ireland event. I have done some work for two pretty big names in Irish fashion too, but it’s a big secret.

Any tips for potential goldsmiths out there?
Becoming a goldsmith requires knowledge of the jewellery business. Start with a jewellery-making course [that] teaches you basic techniques and tools of the trade.
Then you might consider either a degree course in jewellery art or an apprenticeship.
You need basic manual dexterity and a creative flair helps, plus good eyesight and hand-eye co-ordination. You would also need to have served an apprenticeship for up to six years in a reputable place. In saying that, I know some people who have none of the above and still have the cheek to call themselves goldsmiths!

Find out more about Janice Byrne’s jewellery designs at

Latest News:
Latest Video News:
Photo News:
Kerry drinking and driving
How do you feel about the Kerry County Councillor\'s recent passing of legislation to allow a limited amount of drinking and driving?
I agree with the passing, it is acceptable
I disagree with the passing, it is too dangerous
I don\'t have a strong opinion either way
Quick Links