A recent jewellery-box clear out has sent me on a hunt to find sophisticated and fun jewellery that better suits my personality and taste. I've done away with my old plastic bits (not that there is anything wrong with plastic jewellery), the chains that left a green shadow around my neck and the half-broken, half-superglued earrings.
What I've learned is that a jewellery box cleanse is a lot like a soul cleanse: it's out with the old you and in with the new. In a sea of online brands, it can be hard to spot the gold from the not-so. With that in mind, and with only five days left to vote in our inaugural IMAGE Boutique Awards – we devoted an entire category to find the cream of the Irish accessories boutique crop – let us help you in finding your dream ring, hat or bag with our definitive list of the best accessories offering around the country. Don't forget to vote for your favourite, too!
Where: Lower Main St, Westbury Court, Dublin
Why we love it: Bespoke accessory designer Paula Rowan has been perfecting her craft for over two decades and has devoted her time to mastering her skill and creating lasting leather goods in her busy city centre Dublin boutique. While she stocks bags, wallets, and limited edition gifts, Rowan main focus remains on her glove collections which she designs with her unique mantra in mind; "The last thing you put on is the first thing that they will notice".
What we're buying: Paula Rowan's pieces are made for women and men who want to take inspiration from the glamour, sophistication and decadence of the golden age of fashion. Though the weather is muggy right now, I can't wait for cooler temperatures to set in so I can wear these Gucci-esque hot pink, soft leather gloves. Paired with a long, oversized leather-printed fur coat, they are the epitome of grown-up glamour.
Isabella, €140 at paualrowan.com
Where: 14B Chatham St, Dublin 2
Why we love it: Louise Stokes owns one of the most renowned jewellers in Dublin, Loulerie, which she started singlehandedly in 2007 after returning home from New York where she worked with some of the most famous designers in the world. She's learned loads in the ten years since, about building a brand and balancing personal and professional goals as well as the changing face of retail. Her story is both inspirational and educational.
What we're buying: Be the bell of any ball or party in these decadent, feathered flamingo earrings. As well as her own eponymous label, Loulerie also stocks other Irish and international designers. These fabulous flamingo pair are made by jeweller Mignonne Gavigan, who's known for his use of flamboyant colour.
Where: Main St, Clare, Claremorris, Co. Mayo
Why we love it: Jeremiah Higgins has been trading on Main Street since 1820. Since then, it has been passed through two generations. What was once a tannery soon became a drapery and then a gift shop as well as a living history museum. Today, the shop is packed with unique and bespoke jewellery sourced and made locally using natural materials. As well as jewellery, you'll also find high-quality leather goods, accessories, crafts and more, with well-known brands including Rathbornes, Foxford Woollen Mills, DCUK and Aran Woollen Mills.
What we're buying: Have you heard? Beads are the new diamonds and this season is all about stacking and miss-matching. I love these handmade beaded necklaces and bracelets: the earthy tones call for a bright pop of colour on the lips. I can't wait to play dress-up with them.
A selection of handmade bracelets and necklaces available at Jeremiah Higgins. Source: @jeremiahhiggins1820
Where: 43 Dawson St, Dublin 2
Why we love it: The Design House is based in a fabulous Georgian building offering a unique and creative shopping experience in the heart of Dublin city. Spread over 3 floors, shoppers can find everything from cutting-edge fashion, jewellery, bridal, vintage and a variety of crafts all in the one building. The concept behind the enterprise is to bring designers, craftspeople and artists together under one roof and to offer the customer a wide array of high-quality products, and it does it in a relaxed and comfortable way.
What we're buying: Whether you're looking for stainless steel bangles or gold-plated hoops, you're guaranteed to find it here. I love the simple heritage design on this Achil bangle made by Celtic Jewellery Dublin. I spent most of my childhood on Achill island so I always crave those happy and nostalgic feelings.
Where: 16 Exchequer St, Dublin 2,
Why we love it: Located in the heart of buzzing Dublin for the last 20 years, Buffalo Shoe Labs create unique once-off collections that can't be found anywhere else (and in an age of individualism isn't exclusive footwear all we need?!).
What we're buying:
It's been a while since wedge sandals were considered a summer nonnegotiable – mules and open-toed sandals
kind of stole their thunder. But the fashion posse has truly fallen back in love with wedges this season, and everyone from Zara and H&M to Chloé and McQueen recreating this comfortable summer shoe. With a super light-weight sole and a slightly inclined wedge sole, these safari-inspired cream and black weave wedges at the Buffalo Shoe Lab, Dublin, are perfect for walking around all day when you need that bit of height but without the foot-ache. Not just for summer, these office-friendly shoes will look perfect come September and October with a delicate knit draping over your shoulders.
Where: 19 Main St, Deanscurragh, Longford
Why we love it: Established in Longford but with an international repertoire of brands, Shoes at Faniani is a dedicated space to shop of-the-minute trends in the heart of the country. The brand and store are constantly growing and evolving; evolving and adapting in tune with the fashion landscape. The boutique stocks Italian heritage brands like Marco Moreo and Marian and have more-recently added new, younger brands to the mix – like Elia B, Cara London and ASH – to appeal to a wider audience.
What we're buying: With silly-season underway our weekends are busy with parties and celebrations. Keep up the pace (and glamour) in these gorgeous Wizard-of-Oz-inspired green slingbacks from Italian label Lodi. Wear these two-tone green heels with a complementing neutral midi-skirt or culottes for an easy summer's afternoon look. Just don't pair them with red at the risk of looking like na overly-eager Christmas decoration.
Lodi Ofrade ante greenery, €165 at fabiani.ie
Where: Powerscourt Townhouse, 59, William St S, Dublin 2
Why we love it: Tucked away in Dublin's Powerscourt Centre, it's here that you'll find a jewellery enthusiast's paradise, particularly for those who adore delicate, simple pieces. Much like a real-life Pinterest page, one foot inside this store and you'll never want to leave, such is its alluring power. Proving even more difficult is the task of choosing what to buy, given that each and every piece is utterly Instagram-worthy. Creator of MoMuse Margaret O'Rourk has built her beautiful brand from the ground up with hard work and dedication. As well as her everyday jewellery line, Margaret also creates bespoke engagement rings with rare stones including blue topaz, like the one below, and black onyx.
What we're buying: I have been in a diamond-trance since laying eyes on this beautiful blue topaz stone some time ago. Expertly cut and absolutely exquisite to look at, this is a truly spectacular ring to gift or be gifted with. If only...
18K yellow gold ring with blue topaz, €695 at momuse.ie
Who: Anthony Peto
Where: 14 Anne St S, Dublin 2
Why we love it: Anthony Peto - originally from England - went to Paris to become a chapelier 25 years ago and set up a successful hat-making business. He has since expanded to Dublin and has worked alongside the fashion elite like Hermès, Kenzo, and Balmain. Working in one of the last traditional ateliers in Paris, his skills are widely renowned which is why, unsurprisingly, he lands the biggest jobs. He most recently hatted Bella Hadid for Alexandre Vauthier's couture show. But it isn't just models and celebrities Peto works with: his wonderful little quirky shop on South Anne Street is filled (to the brim!) with everyday, wearable crowns.
Where: Winthrop Arcade, Winthrop St, Centre, Cork
Why we love it: Designworks Studio in-house goldsmith and designer Tuula Harrington believes in the values and quality of the beautiful ancient craft of goldsmithing, and its place in a contemporary context. Tuula was brought up in Ireland with a dual cultural influence; her mother is Finnish and father Irish. Growing up, this gave her a clear perspective of two cultures and, as she grew older, she married the two through her art. Tuula was introduced to the art of Goldsmithing by German master Goldsmith Gabrielle Muller Heffter and trained as her apprentice in the early nineties in Assisi, Italy. Today, she runs her gallery and workshop at the Designworks Studio in Cork city and continues to strive towards creating and designing jewellery of the highest quality.
What we're buying: I love the contemporary appeal of these beautiful tear-drop-like gold earrings. The gold gently bends revealing a blooming flower-head with a delicate pearl inside.
Tuohi 9ct yellow gold medium wire earrings, €295 at corkjewellery.ie
Where: 8 Cornmarket Centre, Cork
Why we love it: Stepping into Bauhaus, you forget that you're in a busy metropolitan city like Cork. Resembling a boutique from the era of The Great Gatsby, Bahaus stocks an inspiring collection of bespoke headpieces and accessories to jive the night away in. Whether its fancy dress you're looking for or a unique headdress to accompany your dream wedding dress, it's worth making the trip to the rebel county for.
What we're buying: I love this bespoke feather and crystal headdress. How elegant and grown-up does it look when paired with a deep burgundy shawl?
Who: Margaret O'Connor
Where: Co. Clare
Why we love it: A sense of drama pervades Margaret O’Connor’s work. She produces eclectic couture designs and commercial millinery collections from her studio based in Co. Clare. O'Connor trained with distinguished milliners like Philip Treacy, Noel Stewart, Yvette Jeffs, Kirsten Scott and Sarah Cant – which is evident on closer inspection of her work – though she has developed her own unique and personal style.
What we're buying: With Knockanstockan and Electric Picnic on the horizon, the time is now to start prepping the appropriate attire. You might be confined to a field and a tent, but my style isn't. I'll stand out from the crowds wearing this gorgeous blue glitter crown. Post-festival season, it'll be perfect for that wedding I have coming up, too.