Eily O Connell creates handmade jewellery inspired by the natural world. She grew up in Ireland and has been inspired by it's intrinsic forms.  Eily sources inspiration from forests and landscapes in the UK, Ireland and following a 2020 residency, also in Iceland.  Each piece of jewellery is cast from organic materials that Eily finds in her environment, collects and casts into recycled metals. We chatted to her about how nature influences her designs, the need for transparency in jewellery making, and why we should be supporting independent brands.

"There are constant references to human manipulation of nature as I am concerned with our ecological impact and so try to highlight important issues through pieces and collections."


What 2 words best describe Eily O Connell?

Luxury crabs.


When did you start Eily O Connell, and what inspired you to?

I started casting organic matter in 2008 and have never stopped. A client once said to me that nature is manifesting itself through me and I like that idea.


Tell us about the team behind the brand.

I am the team! Influences from my coastal upbringing were always evident through my projects leading to my organically informed work. I grew up in Donegal on the North West coast of Ireland hence sea themes are evident throughout. There are constant references to human manipulation of nature as I am concerned with our ecological impact and so try to highlight important issues through pieces and collections. 


   Left: Eily O Connell, right: Eily at work at her jewellery bench.


What’s playing on the studio stereo?

Checking what song is on a mix is definitely my biggest distraction. Currently obsessed with “Kablam” an experimental electronic producer who’s sounds blend alluring tension. NTS is the best online radio platform that’s always on. 


We define good design as ‘making positive impact on people and the planet a key input in the design stage’. How do you approach this at Eily O Connell?

I try to approach my work with the idea of appreciating nature’s beauty and textures. Some pieces then also highlight climate change with my recent work about melting ice and sea levels rising. 


We believe in transparency, so we always ask designers - what would you like to do better, or are you working on improving?

I am always trying to improve my stone sourcing to try to get the most ethical stones. They are hard to find but as demand grows, there is more transparency in the chains. 


Shop Eily's collection here


Where is Eily O Connell going in the future?

Hopefully on a holiday in 2021!


As we all know, the fashion industry as a whole is responsible for huge environmental and social issues. How would you like to see the industry change and progress?

I feel there has already been a big change in the jewellery industry from when I started demanding to know where materials come from. But more transparency is needed all around. Jewellers also need to buy from reputable sources who mine fairly and only use recycled metal. As it’s smelted down to the same purity anyways and we have enough mined as is. 


What advice would you give to people who want to be more responsible when they’re shopping?

I think using small independent suppliers is key. The ecological footprint is much smaller and you're helping someone with their rent rather than buy another yacht for the owner of a multinational company. They will also usually source better materials and a lot of the time can make to order which is a special experience. Slow fashion is the way forward.


Thanks Eily!

You can read more about Eily O Connell and her collection here.