Tracy Gilbert is a Dublin-based jeweler with a grá (love) for creating contemporary jewelry that captures the essence of Ireland and its people. Transforming traditional Celtic symbolism, Irish culture and heritage into distinctive pieces of jewelry is at the heart of Tracy’s creations.
Having been commissioned to make a necklace for a family friend, Tracy followed her heart and embarked on a career as a jewelry designer that embodies her free spirit and her love of Irish heritage. “I’ve always lived my life by the old saying ‘what’s meant to be won’t pass you’ and it became clear that being a jewelry designer was meant to be,” she explains.
Tracy was born in Dublin city center and was educated through the Irish language, so she loves speaking in her native tongue and she is inspired by the rich artistic and mythological history of Ireland. Sites like Newgrange, Loughcrew and Tara directly influence her designs. As a child, Tracy was fascinated by how Newgrange allowed light to shine through its chambers on the winter solstice to spectacular effect. Through combining precious metals with translucent materials, Tracy works to recreate that magic allowing light to shine through her pieces to reveal Celtic spirals (triskele). This is particularly evident in her Growing Home and Children of Lir colored collections.
“My Growing Home collection is a reimagined Tree of Life with Ireland represented as a tree,” she explains. “Rotate the piece to see the strong tree image become a map of Ireland. Like all ancient trees, it has weathered many storms but continues to grow strong – it is deeply rooted. It also has the parallel meaning of having roots firmly planted in Ireland and that Ireland continues to grow and provides shelter to her people no matter where they are living.”
Tracy has an emotional connection with Irish folklore and she looks to tell a story in every piece she designs. “My aim is to intertwine my pride of being Irish with imagination to create beautiful original jewelry designs that reflect Ireland’s artistic and mythological heritage. I particularly enjoy exploring and re-imagining existing Celtic symbolism to create pieces that have a special meaning attaching to them.”
It’s important to Tracy that she creates special pieces that resonate with the wearer. She has a simple test to determine whether a new design will become part of her collection. “Once I’ve finished making the first piece at the bench, I place it in my left hand, close my hand and my eyes. If my heart quickens when I open them because the piece excites me, I continue to develop it.”
For those that make it through, each collection has a particular significance with an accompanying story card that explains the meaning behind each design.
Tracy’s work is currently available in Ireland and the US through selected stores. Her Gold Collection is exclusively available in Irish House and Triona Design while her Circle of Light Collection is available in the British Museum.
Like most designers, Tracy says that design inspiration is a bit like the sea; it ebbs and flows somewhat spontaneously. But she has been lucky that recent months have been wonderful creatively and she is kneedeep designing new pieces that she hopes will be available soon. “I continue to push myself to learn new skills and love the steep learning curve that comes with learning a new technique. Color is so important to me in my pieces, so I’ve been working hard on my enameling skills and look forward to showcasing some new colorful pieces.”