Happy Christmas




Many thanks for all your custom and support throughout the year, for dropping by to read my posts, for your comments and your feedback. It has been very much appreciated.

So to you and yours I wish the very best wishes over Christmas, and continued success for 2015.



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Be My Guest – Rachel Swan


This months guest post is from Dublin goldsmith Rachel Swan.

Rachel is a Dublin  girl born and bred, and lives there with her husband and their cat ‘Tabs’.

Rachel Swan Logo

Rachel, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to talk to me.  I’ve been a fan of your

 designs for a while, could you tell us how you first got started?

“Thank you Michael. I started my studies in Fashion Buying and Merchandising but soon realised it wasn’t for me.

I had to find something more hands on and creative.

I’ve always loved jewellery, ever since I was a young child when my Granny used to take out her jewellery box and let me rummage through it every Sunday.

I loved looking at all her little trinkets, and in particular, a little silver hedgehog, which I still have today.”

Fashion buying no less? Not for you then? Tell me a little more. 

“I discovered a Crafts course in the Liberties College in Dublin and signed up immediately after I realised that my fashion buying career was not going to work out!

From there, I took part in a FAS jewellery manufacturing course. This course has since been cancelled, which is a shame, as it was a  great launch pad for jewellers in the industry.

From there I secured an apprenticeship in Alan Ardiff’s studio in Dublin.

I work for Alan for about 5 years, until 2008, when I created my own collection and decided to take a leap of faith and become self employed.”

Oxidised Orb Pendant © Rachel Swan

Oxidised Orb Pendant
© Rachel Swan

Your studio is very pleasing to the eye. I’ve admired your videos and images across all your social media sites. Where is it based?

“Why thank you. I now work from my studio in RUA RED in Tallaght. It’s a gorgeous light filled space with enough room for my workshop and display area.

The studio is close to where I live with my husband and cat, who models for me the odd time, the cat that is, not the hubby!”

'Tabs' in model mode © Rachel Swan

‘Tabs’ in model mode
© Rachel Swan

I see ‘Tabs’ has become an online favourite. She’s quite the model!

 “Watch out for Tabs on Twitter and Instagram. You might also see my ‘nephews’ Bertie & Arthur the bulldogs modelling too. I’m a sucker for pets wearing jewellery.” 

As I mentioned, your collection is stunning. I know they’re available online, but tell me your thoughts and how you came to design them.  

“My collections are very geometric and structured and I tend to stick to a minimal aesthetic. I love to use repeated geometric patterns to create designs like the Orb collection. I take inspiration from architecture, interiors and sculpture. I have great appreciation for the Scandinavian style of design.”

© Rachel Swan

© Rachel Swan

What are you currently working on?

“I’m currently working on smaller scale pieces in 9ct gold, making the jewellery even more wearable, luxurious and elegant, while still keeping the symmetrical and minimalist design in mind.

The new gold Central pendant is one of my favourites, and I haven’t taken it off since I made one for myself.

I always maintain that I design and make pieces that I want to wear, I would never make anything that I would not want to wear myself.”

Rachel, it’s been a pleasure to talk with you. Finally, where can we see some of your collection?

“Not at all, you are very welcome. You can visit Rachel Swan Goldsmith to view some pieces in my current collection” 

Rachel thank you for guesting with me this month. I look forward to seeing ‘Tabs’ on Facebook

© Rachel Swan

© Rachel Swan



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ENDED – October Giveaway -ENDED

1.45ct Golden Yellow Citrine © Michael Wall 2014

1.45ct Golden Yellow Citrine © Michael Wall 2014

Showing here is a 1.45ct Brazillian Citrine.

A trilliant/trillion cut gem.

8mm in size.

Golden yellow colour.

Nice eye clean gem with excellent lustre.

Yours to win!


1.45ct Golden Yellow Citrine © Michael Wall 2014

1.45ct Golden Yellow Citrine © Michael Wall 2014


Throughout the site you’ll find lots of articles. Just leave me a comment on one post, or two if you like. Tell me you’ve liked or even disliked a post. Maybe you’ve found it useful? Maybe not, but tell me. If you want to know something or ask a question, feel free to do so

That’s it! That’s all it takes. I’ll be on the lookout for your name and one winner will be picked this Friday, the 10th of October.  

The T&C ‘s bit:

You don’t have to subscribe (Hint: It will help if you do!)

You can enter as many times as you like (as many comments as you like, it will help if you do!)

You don’t have to follow on Twitter or Facebook (Hint: It will help if you do!)

Open to ROI, UK, and overseas. Please be sure to enter a valid email address, along with your name.

Only  one 1.45ct carat Citrine will be given as a prize. No cash alternative. 


Winner announced on Twitter and Facebook


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In addition to….

I was having a discussion on WLRFM this morning and mentioned what I thought was a well recognised gem; Citrine.

I forget sometimes that just because I see different gems each and every day, other people do not.

So don’t just think precious gems are limited to Diamond, Emerald, Sapphire and Ruby. 

© Michael Wall 2014

© Michael Wall 2014

They’re  not, and please don’t think that’s all I carry either.

I’ve seen the Alexandrites and Apatite, the Emeralds and Enstatite. I’ve handled the Flourites and Goshenites, the Iolites and Kunzites. The full A-Z through the Sphenes to the Topaz and Tsavorite and up to the Zircons.

There is quite a staggering array of gems out there. All of them come in different shapes, sizes, structures and colours.  

Above all remember, not all Diamonds are white and not all Sapphires are blue. 

If you have a question about any gem, feel free to ask about them. 


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How Much?


 “As much as you can afford to.”


A ring should be a symbol of love, friendship and commitment.

It’s an important purchase and probably only once in a lifetime.

If you wish it to be a symbol of wealth and affluence, so be it.

But don’t get hung up on ‘How much should I spend?’

There are no rules.

If you have a budget of €500 and find your perfect ring, so be it.

The same can be said if your budget is €20,000. 


That’s it. No more.


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‘I take thee at thy word’

I dislike the term Jeweller.

I’ve been referred to as a Jeweller.

I’m not a Jeweller.

The term Jeweller to my mind, encompasses quite a substantial amount of services with qualified professionals and craftspeople in-house that are capable of looking after such. In truth I am quite pedantic. But with such a varied amount of terms, associated descriptions, ideas and notions of same it is something that should to be clearly defined.

One definition defines a ‘Jeweller’ as; “A person that makes, repairs, or sells jewellery.”

That’s too vague and quite misleading. The word ‘jewel’, comes from the French ‘Jouel’, meaning treasure, or object of beauty. From vulgar Latin, ‘Jocale’, meaning ‘graceful object’.

In the strictest sense a Jewellers premises will include bench jewellers, goldsmiths, a casting room, engravers, enamellists, stone-setters, and polishers. It may include watchmakers, designers, model makers and more besides.

Goldsmith at bench

A person that merely ‘sells’ jewellery owns a ‘Jewellery shop’. He or she may not necessarily be a jeweller.

A person that repairs jewellery may be anything from a metalworker up to an expert goldsmith.

There is quite a distinction between the professions. While it’s fair to say yes, a certain amount of years in business will indeed lend credence to your title. But being in business for 15 years where you’ve been selling pre-manufactured jewellery does not make you a jeweller.

Nowadays it seems items brought to a Jeweller to be repaired, re-modelled, serviced will have to be ‘sent away’. That I find strange.

If you’re a jeweller you would, to my mind, be expected to have enough experience to carry out the repairs, cleaning, re-modelling etc., or at least have a qualified person or persons in-house to do such.

Master Craftsman

Master Craftsman

I have none of the above.Why?

I’m not a jeweller.

I prefer to use qualified craftspeople. For gem setting, and bespoke design and manufacture I recommend goldsmiths such as Tuula Harrington of Designworks, Oliver Healy in Midleton, and Irene Leahy of IMB Design.

For engraving, I would use a master engraver that is capable of engraving by hand in minute details. A true craftsman with knowledge and experience to offer.

For watch repair and service, I would recommend using a watchmaker of 25+ years’ experience with luxury brands such as Cartier, Rolex, etc. For vintage repairs the same. All highly skilled and expertly qualified individuals.

Watchmaker assembling a mechanical movement

Watchmaker assembling a mechanical movement

For all associated works there are craftspeople to do all and sundry.
So if you’d prefer to have your jewellery designed and created, hand set and engraved by hand, and finished by experts you know what to do.

If you’d like to have your items repaired or re-modelled by expert professionals, you know who to ask.

If you need to ask advice on prestige brands, or need a vintage watch repaired, you know who to call.

Or you could ask a Jeweller.

I’m sure you’ve memories of the older shops where you’d see everything from clocks on the wall and trophies on shelves, to diamond rings and a well worn jewellers bench. These shops were deserving of the title jewellers. That’s what they were. I’m sure in your own town you’ll remember such.  If you can, and have a story to share feel free to leave a comment below. 

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My precious

I recently asked you via poll about gold, and which if any was more precious than others. Surprisingly nearly half (48%) came back and said that ‘Green Gold’ was more precious…

You might remember a previous post where I talked a bit about gold. If not, you can refresh your memory here.

Gold is gold.

Gold is Gold

Gold is Gold

In it’s native form it’s yellow. It’s pure. It’s 24 karat. It’s 100% gold.

There are no 24kt white, rose, green, grey, red, or blue golds. They can only be created by alloying yellow gold with metals and compounds.

For the purpose of this post lets concern ourselves with 18 karat gold. When a piece of jewellery is referred to as 18 karat or 18kt, it means that it contains 75% pure yellow gold. That’s the same for 18kt yellow, white, or rose gold etc…

Gold is gold.


Here’s a breakdown of the alloyed golds:

 White – Gold alloyed with palladium, and in some cases manganese. In some, it’s alloyed with nickel* It’s not ‘white’. It can be a shade of white to grey. White gold is usually rhodium plated when used in jewellery.

Rose – Gold alloyed with copper and silver.

Green -Gold alloyed with silver. Naturally occurring it’s known as Electrum.

 Grey – Gold alloyed with silver, copper and manganese.

The ratios in which the metals are added yield varying results.

Another method in which you can ‘colour’ gold is by surface treating gold. Blue gold for example can be achieved by alloying with ruthenium and other metals such as rhodium and heating to 1833 degrees to form a sapphire blue surface layer.

Gold in the Crucible

Gold in the Crucible

But, yes you’ve guessed it, the gold used will still be yellow.

Gold is gold.

I’ve left a lot of detail out of this. There are of course other methods used to ‘create’ coloured golds and variants of same. All used to achieve different effects, finishes, and widely used in jewellery, electronics and industry.

 That’s it, short and sweet. Hope that cleared a few things up?




At Your Service

A couple of questions came in last week and again this morning. How much does it cost to service a watch, and what does it involve?

The answer to both of course is, it all depends. I’m not giving a roundabout answer as there are a lot of factors to consider. The make, model, whether or not it’s a battery or mechanical movement. We’ll primarily talk about automatic or mechanical movements.

So bear with me. Won’t take long I promise.

The question arose as a result of a client telling me about the “service” of his Rolex. A current model approximately 6-7 years old sent for a service by an authorised sales agent. My interest peaked when he told me the watch had to be sent away, that this authorised dealer could not service it on site.

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

Now I understand that for some prestige watch brands, a specialist will be required to inspect and service the hundreds of intricate parts that make up the movement.  A Rolex movement for example will have over 200 parts working in unison, with tolerances of thousandths of a millimetre. A Patek Philippe for instance requires a monumental amount of operations and even the standard service takes some time. The final test stage alone can take up to 14 days. On a watch that can easily cost in excess of €150,000, don’t be too surprised.

But I was curious as to why a shop that sells such luxury timepieces, doesn’t have the facility to service them. On that I can’t comment, so perhaps if you ever do call in to such a shop, ask them and let me know.

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

For my customers I prefer not to send their timepieces out of the country. I prefer to send or deliver them personally to a watchmaker of 25+ years of experience in servicing Rolex, Omega, Cartier etc. A watchmaker with experience spent with these prestige companies. A watchmaker that specialised in both modern and vintage timepieces and one that supplies a quotation before any work commences. One that offers a guarantee on all services carried out.

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

But that’s just me.

So back to the question of how much and what does it consist of? For a prestige mechanical watch the basic work is as follows:

Movement removed, and disassembled. Components cleaned and inspected. Reassembled and lubricated, using the correct oil (in some cases, oils) Seals and gaskets are also replaced with water sealing to factory standard where applicable.  The watch is then timed correctly. Included in a service is a clean and inspection of the case and bracelet. Both will be refinished, polished, and cleaned before the watch is put back in. Pressure testing and proofing can then be carried out.

Watch is kept for 2-3 days so post service checks can be carried out.   

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

Gents Vintage Rolex © Michael Wall 2014

That is a “service”. It should take about 2-3 weeks to be complete. As for the cost, that depends on the watch, the condition, and the age. Most watches that have been handled by me, such as Rolex, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, Omega, etc. have cost between €300 and €500. Some that have required parts, and part refurbishment have cost more.

As there are so many different types, makes and models, prices do differ. Some standard automatics for instance may be serviced for as little as €50.  

So if you do have a watch you need serviced, feel free to fill out the contact form below for more information.

Images above show a vintage Rolex Day-Date, with Diamond Bezel. Watch underwent a full restoration, to include a dial restoration (also available on request), a case and bracelet polish and re-graining.  

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Going. Going. Gone.

I often get asked how jewellery auctions work, and if it is a good place to buy and sell jewellery.

The former can be a little bit of a minefield as sometimes it will take the expert eye to identify what it is you are buying. But as a rule of thumb, if you like the piece and will wear it and are happy at the value you’ve bought it at, then you are off to a good start.

But for those of you that want to sell at auction. How do you go about doing that?

Well, it’s quite simple.

You contact an auction house directly, make an appointment to have the item viewed and valued. In some instances a larger auction house such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s may send a high value piece to their experts for their opinion. But the same applies. The item is viewed, and the auction house can offer a guide price that it’s expected to make at auction.

Usually once you are happy with the guide price a reserve is set and the item is entered into the next available auction.

So let me take you through the story of a few pieces that I submitted to auction myself:

These two yellow gold gem-set items were sent to an auction house to be sold. There was no extraordinary value on them as two independent houses had confirmed. Nonetheless they were saleable in their existing condition.

© Michael Wall Bespoke

© Michael Wall Bespoke

When the pieces were submitted they were valued and a guide price established.  As I deal with a few different houses I already had an account. As an individual seller you may not need to furnish lots of paperwork and multiple proof of identification etc. So check with the auction house directly as the T&C’s differ.   

Of course with the large houses you may be asked to bring proof of identification, address, and other details as they require.

So the pieces have their guide price. What comes after that? Well it’s best to set a reserve. That’s the lowest amount you want to sell the item for. In this case a reserve was set on both. After that the items went in to the next available auction.   

© Michael Wall Bespoke

© Michael Wall Bespoke

It is of course very important that you check out the terms and conditions of each auction house. There are charges associated. For example, a percentage of the ‘hammer price’ (the price the item sells at) will be taken. This will be a percentage you and the auction house will have agreed on prior to auction.   This will be a figure inclusive or exclusive of VAT.

So for example; both my items have an estimate of €8,000 – €12,000. They are set with a reserve of €10,000. In this auction let’s say they sell for €13,500. That is the ‘hammer price’, the last bid has been taken and the gavel falls.

© Michael Wall Bespoke

© Michael Wall Bespoke

Not a bad day! Remembering I don’t take home €13,500, so after let’s say a house charges 20% of the hammer price plus VAT of 23% it’s a different story.

The auction house will of course inform you directly of the sale. Depending on what you both discussed prior to auction, payment will be made directly to you in the allotted time.

That’s essentially it.

 You can of course attend the auction. They are quite exciting. Most of the larger houses will have live feeds, so even if you’re unable to actually attend you can still watch the event online.

© Sotheby's

David Bennett at the podium © Sotheby’s

If you do have or did have the opportunity to attend one, be it a silver auction, fine art or jewellery auction etc., let me know about your experience below.   

If you have any more questions, and for examples of items that have been sold at auction by me do leave a comment below.

Michael Wall


Diamond Necklace - Property of a Gentleman

Diamond Necklace – Property of a Gentleman

Diamond and Enamel Brooch - Property of a Gentleman

Diamond and Enamel Brooch – Property of a Gentleman


Tiffany Flower Burst Brooch

Tiffany Flower Burst Brooch

Platinum, Diamond and Sapphire Necklace

Platinum, Diamond and Sapphire Necklace

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Vacuums, Tights, and Diamonds

Twitter is a great medium. As social media platforms go, I seem to answer more questions there than I do in ‘real life’.

Lately a few have cropped up, disguised in the form of ‘What to do if you lose a small object’. As I’ve explained there are very handy tips and tricks you can use for, let’s say, when you’ve noticed a diamond or gem missing from your ring.

It happens. In fact I’ve lost diamonds from my bench. They catapult out of a tweezers and rocket across the room. It can be little difficult to keep a steady hand all the time when you’re examining 1mm stones!

So how do I find them? And what happens when you have realised you are missing a gem or diamond?

The majority of clients, or people that call to ask what can be done, usually notice the missing gem while in their home. And out of that the majority of gems have been located.

Surprisingly the incident I hear the most often is noticing the missing gem after dressing or making a bed. You see settings (the metal structure where the gems are mounted) can get caught on fibres and threads. Woollens are notorious, and a setting can over time, loosen.

Next on the list is ‘washing hands’. Again, ceramic sinks and basins and metal taps can damage a setting.

The other is no fault of anything other than the setting has worn over time. Different types of settings wear differently, so it is always prudent to check them from time to time.

So here are a few hints tips and tricks.

First the floor.

It’s generally where they end up. Don’t sweep it or you might brush it into corners, cracks or crevices and it will be lost forever, or until you take up all the floorboards.

I suggest the following. Take your vacuum cleaner, and use the hose and nozzle. But before you start sucking up all and sundry, take a pair of tights or stockings, and cover the nozzle. Secure with a rubber band. Any object on a wooden floor, tiles, or carpet will be drawn to the suction.

Vacuum with a pair of tights/stockings over the nozzle

Vacuum with a pair of tights/stockings over the nozzle

If you believe you have lost a stone down the drain, the next port of call is to check the u-bend. Some (not all) have a sump, and it’s there you will most likely find the missing gem. If your u-bend doesn’t have this, fear not. Most weighty, solid objects will swirl about at the bottom of the bend. So unless you’re throwing gallons of water down at a time, you might just be pleasantly surprised.

Quite a dusty U-Bend, but  I've never had to open this one!

Quite a dusty U-Bend, but I’ve never had to open this one!

Clothing and linens.

Yes it’s worth checking them. Have a search, a shake, a turn inside out, a brush whatever. If it falls out revert back to the vacuum. If you fear it’s too late check your washing machine and/or washer dryer. There’s more often than not a lint catcher in them, so you might be lucky.

And to avoid all this put your jewellery on ‘after dressing’. And keep a little ring box/holder for when you’re doing work.

Believe me there is a gigantic difference in having a Diamond Ring, and having a Ring where a Diamond used to be!

What’s your story?

Lose a gem only to find it again? Tell me about it. Leave your comments below.