New to the collection for Autumn Winter 2019, we have two gorgeous pieces from contemporary
jewellery brand, Inner Island. We caught up with Gemma O'Leary who Founded the brand back
in 2015 to find out all about her inspirations, creative techniques and minimal aesthetic.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and Inner Island jewellery?
I grew up on a dairy farm in the rural country side in the very south of Ireland. I had no interest in
jewellery growing up. It was the 90s so "jewellery" was a nose ring, a cord around my neck and
a mood ring. However, my mother was always dripping with jewellery. Layers of gold chains,
stacks of rings and bangles. I inherited her love of jewellery when I started traveling and was
exposed to more contemporary design. I fell in love with it as an art form and when I made my
first ring, I had a rush of excitement and knew it was the medium I wanted to work with. I worked
in the industry making jewellery for other design houses for 7 years before I took a leap and
launched Inner Island 4 years ago. After 20 years of traveling and living in cities I moved back to
rural Ireland last year and now make all Inner Island pieces in my home studio in Wexford.
What is the meaning behind the brand name Inner Island?
Inner Island, the name is from a song by El Perro del Mar. It's a beautiful song and to me the
lyrics are about how we all have our own individual sense of style, and that we should nourish
that sense of style and not cast it away.
Where do you draw inspiration from when designing new collections?
My collections have been inspired by wooden boats, the child's game of "Pick up Sticks" and
an 18th Century window. I think it's important to have a point of reference, it helps in creating
something different rather than deciding to sit down and make 'something'. It makes your brain
think differently if you have a point of reference rather than being influenced by ideas in your
head or other things you've seen somewhere."
What materials and techniques do you use to create such sculptural and contemporary
The first stage is converting my point of references to "doodles" in a notebook. One whole
notebook can be used for a single collection. This is followed by the trial and error stage. Lots
of prototypes get made that never make it to the public. This is initially the most frustrating
part of the process but once the design is complete the feeling of joy makes it worthwhile.
I make everything in sterling silver and the processes vary from piece to piece. It may involve,
wax sculpting, Lost wax casting, sawing, soldering, melting, hammering or all the above.
Its messy work but it is worth it in the end.
How would you describe your brand aesthetic and the way it transforms the way
a person looks and feels?
Like an island we can be influenced by everyone around us, but we still have our own sense
of self. INNER ISLAND jewellery is there to complement the wearer not to dominate the wearer,
so it's has a complex simplicity to it. Although the jewellery is made with graphic shapes
and interesting textures it still has a lightness and delicacy to it. I look at each piece and ask
whether each design detail needs to be there and if it doesn't add anything to it, I take it away,
that is certainly my ethos in design.