Craft is the love of my life says Cork jeweller

As Valentine’s Day looms — along with marriage proposals — CHRIS DUNNE catches up with jeweller Kim Magee
Craft is the love of my life says Cork jeweller
Kim Magee,  Cork jeweller.

CORK bespoke jeweller Kim Magee made the cut in business at a very young age.

“I’ve had jewellery in my life since I was very young,” says Kim, who says her busiest time for engagement rings is between November and Valentine’s Day.

“Christmas and Valentine’s Day are traditionally the most popular times for marriage proposals,” says the 23 year old from Ballincollig.

“It’s handy for remembering important anniversaries!”

When did Kim’s love affair with all things shiny and sparkling begin?

“I loved beading since I was a child,” says Kim.

“As a family, we always went on our summer holidays to West Cork and I sold my beaded necklaces there, at the local market in Courtmacsharry.

Kim Magee at work.
Kim Magee at work.

“I bought the beads from my Confirmation money!”

And all that she touched turned to gold.

“I made some money, which to a little girl, seemed like a lot of money! Then I re-invested into more materials to make the necklaces,” says Kim.

“I loved the whole process. And my fascination for jewellery design and jewellery-making stemmed from there.”

Kim, working with her hands, enjoyed creating pretty colourful pieces of jewellery, getting great satisfaction from her creations and from her sales. She enjoyed it so much that she decided to make a career out of it.

She fell in love with precious stones.

“I did work my placement when I was in Transition Year with my uncle, Cork jeweller and hand engraver Don O’Mahony, and I was drawn to diamonds,” says Kim.

Aren’t we all?

“That’s true,” says Kim.

“Every girl dreams of the sparkling diamond ring glittering on her finger. The simple classic diamond ring remains ever popular.”

But all that glitters is not gold.

“I see a growing trend where couples getting engaged opt for colourful gem stones or birthstones instead of the traditional diamond,” says Kim.

“Many women recycle and re-model their mother’s or their grandmother’s rings a unique style. Heirlooms are very precious to people and incorporating a loved one’s ring into their own ring is a lovely, sentimental thing to do; marrying the old with the new. I can melt down the metal from an old ring, take out the old stones and add new ones.”

Kim Magee working on her jewellery.
Kim Magee working on her jewellery.

So are diamonds still a girls’ best friend?

Kim laughs.

“Ah yes. It is hard to beat the enduring diamond.”

A diamond is forever.

“The metal never wears down. It is a set price,” says Kim.

Then the stone, the diamond, sometimes a solitaire, sometimes a cluster, is chosen to suit the budget. It is an investment of a lifetime.

After Kim graduated from the Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s (DCCI) Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills and Design Course in Kilkenny in 2017, employing the valuable advice and skills she had learned from her uncle, she set up her own workshop.

“Don told me ‘measure twice. Cut once’.”

Kim was confident she could make the cut to follow her dream.

“I had my sights set on the course in Kilkenny,” she says.

“After leaving school I worked on my portfolio for a year before applying to D C Col in Kilkenny.

Some of Kim's work.
Some of Kim's work.

“The college only takes on 10 or 12 people every two years. So I was thrilled to get a place on the course.”

Kim, honing and perfecting her craft ever since, had her sights set on working for herself.

“If I worked for myself then I felt that I could put a little bit of myself into my own work, designing my own work,” says Kim, who does the smelting to the stone setting.

“The pieces are very personal,” she adds.

“They are all made by hand, not by a machine. It is time-consuming, micro-setting and setting stones.”

Kim’s work is very accurate. Using precision tools, she must use surgical care and have a lot of patience.

“So I don’t drink too much coffee!” she jokes.

“A tiny slip of the hand could prove to be very expensive.”

Is she getting more business this Valentine’s, with 2020 being a leap year, when women are ‘allowed’ to propose

“Yes, I’m getting lots of queries from ladies this year. Some of them can call the shots, it being a leap year!”

Where does Kim source her diamonds and precious stones from?

“I use a diamond dealer in Antwerp and another in the UK,” says Kim. “The stones are chosen with the utmost care.”

Would Kim recognise a very valuable diamond on someone’s finger?

“Definitely,” she says. “But I wouldn’t comment!”

What kind of a ring would she like herself when she meets ‘The One’?

She laughs. “Everyone dreams of the knuckle-duster!” says Kim.

“And I would definitely want the significant diamond ring. I love the beauty and the quality of the diamond. It is hard to beat a really nice diamond.”

It is hard to beat a job that brings joy to each and everyone you encounter.

“I love my job,” says Kim. “I make something different every day. I bring joy to people.”

So her craft is the love of her life?

“It is,” says Kim. “I’ve loved jewellery making and jewellery designing since I was a little girl.”

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