First Irish-Chinese Jewellery Exhibition to open In National Design & Craft Gallery on 2 February

Posted 18.01.18

Images (l to r): jewellery pieces by Hu Jun, Christopher of Rudolf Heltzel, Binyu Chen and Eimear Conyard

Bounded + Unlimited: Contemporary Jewellery, an exhibition of exceptional jewellery and goldsmithing by four contemporary jewellery artists from Ireland and China, will open at the National Design & Craft Gallery, Kilkenny on Friday, 2nd February 2018. Coinciding with the launch of Rudolf Heltzel: In Precious Metal, an exhibition of the work of the master goldsmith, the two showcases will run in parallel, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to explore and savour stunning contemporary jewellery pieces. Both exhibitions run until 18th April.

The first Irish-Chinese jewellery exchange of its kind, Bounded + Unlimited: Contemporary Jewellery will explore the working practices of these jewellery artists across design, techniques and materials from the perspective of differing cultural contexts. The artists have developed bodies of work specifically for the exhibition, the title of which refers to how the artists are bound by their respective personal and national cultural experiences, yet unlimited in opportunities for communication and understanding through the traditions of their craft. The project was initiated to develop closer links between the countries’ respective jewellery markets and to create interest that will be favourable to future collaborations between Chinese and Irish jewellery artists and educators. Bounded + Unlimited will travel to White Peacock Art Gallery in Beijing and Zbird Gallery, Shanghai in summer 2018.

The two Irish jewellery artists represented are Eimear Conyard, manager of DCCoI’s Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course and a practicing contemporary jewellery artist, and Christopher Heltzel of the long-established and renowned Rudolf Heltzel. The jewellery artists from China are Hu Jun, a professor of Jewellery Design at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Binyu Chen, a lecturer in jewellery design at the School of Art of Beijing City University. All four are internationally recognised makers and have extensive experience within jewellery and goldsmithing education. A series of masterclasses, lectures and educational initiatives will coincide with the exhibition in both Ireland and China.

Commenting on the upcoming exhibition, Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, said: “We are thrilled to welcome such highly regarded and internationally renowned artists as Hu Jun and Binyu Chen to Kilkenny for the first Irish-Chinese jewellery exhibition in this country. As an island nation, we often look outward to seek inspiration and we hope this exchange of contemporary works from Ireland and China will not only highlight the parallels and the differences in style, tradition and skills of both but also encourage future collaborations between the two countries. We also anticipate that this exhibition, coinciding with Rudolf Heltzel: In Precious Metal, will give visitors a rare opportunity to view the work of a group of jewellers who are masters of their craft.

In parallel with this exhibition, the National Design & Craft Gallery will celebrate an icon of Irish craft and design when it opens Rudolf Heltzel: In Precious Metal, a spectacular exhibition of master goldsmith Rudolf Heltzel’s sculptural pendants, also on 2nd  February. Heltzel has gained an international reputation for the originality, quality and timeless aesthetic of his craftsmanship with each piece created meticulously by hand using some of the world’s oldest jewellery techniques. This exhibition will showcase many of Heltzel’s most ambitious and technically complex designs, presenting pieces selected from his personal archive alongside new work in three of his sculptural pendant collections: Rock Crystal, Tourmaline Butterfly and Druzy.

Throughout the run of both exhibitions, there will be many opportunities to learn more about jewellery making, including a lecture on modern jewellery design and processes by Rudolf Heltzel; an afternoon with Christopher Heltzel talking about engagement rings; jewellery-making workshops; family days; late dates and a film screening. A schedule with details is below.

Chinese participation is kindly supported by Beijing City University, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, LongDa and Zbird Gallery.

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For further press information, please contact Elevate PR on 01 662 5652
Tara Walsh – / Emer Igbokwe –



EXHIBITION OFFICAL LAUNCH: Thursday 1 February, 6.30pm
To be opened by Mary V. Mullin, Design Consultant, Chair of Sir Misha Black Awards and Trustee of the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation

MEET THE MAKERS: Saturday 3 February
12-2pm Talks & demonstrations by Binyu Chen, Eimear Conyard and Hu Jun (B) (free)
3-5pm   Lecture by Rudolf Heltzel: The Arduous Road to the Creation of a Jewel (B) (free)

FAMILY DAYS: Saturday 10 February, 10 March and 14 April, 11am + 12.30pm (B) (free)
Please visit for updates and information

An afternoon with Christopher Heltzel talking cut, clarity, colour and carat (B) (free) 

LATE DATE: Thursday 22 February, 6.30pm
Medieval adornment from Kilkenny, exploring the Rothe House Collection with Marie Wilgaard Kelly from the DCCoI Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course and Rothe House curator Olivia Bergan (B) (free) 

WORKSHOP FOR ADULTS: 10 March, 3pm €15
Explore themed window adornments with Maeve Lynch from Rudolf Heltzel (B)  

LATE DATE: Thursday 29 March, 6.30pm
Film screening: documentary about the jewels of Elizabeth Taylor in Elizabeth Taylor: The Auction (B) (free) 

SILVER JEWELLERY: Thursday 5th April, 10am-1pm €35
Teens are guided in designing and creating their own bespoke silver jewellery (B) 

RING MAKING: Saturday 7th April, 10am-1pm €40
Sit at the bench to design, forge, decorate and finish your very own silver ring (B)

Tailored tours for primary, secondary & third level (B) 

(B) Booking required - email or call 056 7796 151 for details. Please visit for updates to the events schedule.


Eimear Conyard is a contemporary jewellery and timepiece designer-maker who is based in Kilkenny. She studied at the National College of Art & Design in Dublin and at The Glasgow School of Art. She has combined her practice with working in education for the last 17 years and is currently Head of the DCCoI Jewellery & Goldsmithing Course Skills and Design Course. Prior to this, she lectured at the School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University in the UK and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Canada. She has exhibited her work in Europe, USA, Canada and China.

Christopher Heltzel followed in his father’s footsteps and took over the running of his gold and silversmithing workshop and gallery in Kilkenny in 2010. Having trained at the DCCoI Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course, in workshops internationally, and under his father for many years, Christopher is a vastly experienced goldsmith in his own right. Rudolf Heltzel is an icon of Irish craft and design for over 50 years and one of the most celebrated jewellery and goldsmithing establishments in Europe. The practice today is centred on commission work for favoured clients, many of whom are fourth generation collectors, along with selected group and solo exhibitions. 

Hu Jun is a contemporary jewellery designer based in Beijing, China. He studied Metalsmithing & Jewellery Design at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, completing a master’s degree in 2004. He is a professor of Jewellery Design at Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology. He regularly contributes to metalsmith and jewellery magazines in China, authoring critical reviews and essays on traditional and contemporary jewellery from around the world. Hu Jun’s work is in the public collection of the Gold Museum of China and has been widely published in articles and specialist international contemporary jewellery publications. He is a member of Chinese Arts and Crafts Institute and the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

Chen Binyu is a lecturer in jewellery design at the School of Art of Beijing City University. She majored in Design of Modern Jewellery, graduating from Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology with a master’s degree in 2010. A double-certificate expert, she focused on the research and study of gems, and also holds a jewellery designer qualification certificate. She was previously a lecturer in the Metal Jewellery Workshop in Gengdan Institute of Beijing University of Technology, and was a visiting scholar at Dublin Institute of Technology in 2014 and at China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 2017. She is the recipient of many awards and has exhibited in Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Belgium and Italy as well as having her works held in collections by museums and private collectors. She has published articles in Chinese professional jewellery design journals and media, and is a member of the Gems & Jewellery Trade Association of China, a designer at Zbird Company and manager of the jewellery studio of 798 Hong Ding Art Gallery.


About the National Design & Craft Gallery
Established by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in 2000, the National Design & Craft Gallery is Ireland’s leading centre for contemporary craft and design. It exhibits Irish and international designers, artists and makers who push boundaries in their engagement with the making process. Its mission is to inspire appreciation, creativity and innovation, and it plays a critical role in building understanding of craft and material culture in Ireland.

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland
The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing Government policy. DCCoI's activities are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. DCCoI currently has 64 member organisations and over 2,500 registered clients. 

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