The 126 files in this series document a range of gold jewellery produced by the KDW precious metals department over the period of 1969 to 1984. The documentation is in the form of slides, photographs and negatives. The items depicted in this collection include: rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets and brooches. Other items that feature in this collection are designs for a trophy and a chain of office. The lack of client names on the original record sheets suggests that the majority of gold jewellery produced by the KDW was for sale in the Kilkenny shops, as indicated on the reverse of some photographs within the series.
The KDW gold jewellery depicted in this series was created by what was originally known as the silversmithing workshop in the early 1960s, and therefore shares a similar administrative history to the Silver Jewellery and Silver Holloware series.
The silversmithing workshop was the first workshop to be opened by the KDW in 1963, set up by the first employee, Michael Hilliar, who studied his craft in Belfast College of Art and the Central School of Art, London. Hilliar was recorded as the principal designer of the metal articles shown at the first ever KDW exhibition in 1965, with some other pieces designed by Bertel Gardberg, David Reeves and Oisin Kelly. Extensive metal production did not officially begin until 1966, when the Berlin born designer Rudolf Heltzel was invited by CTT (Coras Tractala) to manage the workshop alongside the Finnish designer Bertel Gardberg. Gardberg was credited with laying the foundations of the Finnish silversmithing industry, and was a prolific designer in the KDW undertaking work in wood, wrought iron and ceramics as well as silver. Heltzel is credited with initiating an apprenticeship scheme within the department and establishing proper training facilities for apprentices. Heltzel is one of the most documented jewellers associated with the KDW in the national press though he only stayed with the KDW for two years. Although this series features only three examples of his gold jewellery designs, his role in initiating the apprenticeship scheme was crucial to the success of jewellery making and training in Ireland thereafter. Heltzel devised a silversmithing and jewellery course under the aegis of the Kilkenny Vocational Education Committee in association with the jewellery manufacturing firm Rionore of Kilkenny Ltd. As part of this course, apprentices spent four days per week in the workshop and one day at a vocational school learning technical drawing and mathematics for alloying precious metals. The KDW essentially became a national facility for apprenticeships in precious metals and examination procedures were officially recognised by the Department of Education. This secured the precious metal department as one of the longest running production facilities in the KDW over the history of the workshops. As a result, the standard of apprentices were very high, and many went on to win the national apprenticeship competition. Some of these winners went further and took part at international apprenticeship level. When they first entered the international competition in 1968, the Irish competitor came last. However in 1969 the Irish competitor came twelfth out of 18 and in 1970 they came fifth, indicating the KDW's dedication to training was successful.
The gold jewellery series is almost one third of the size of the silver jewellery series, reflecting the consumer's preference for silver jewellery, a less expensive option. Many of the items depicted in the gold jewellery series are engagement rings or wedding bands.
Designer Franz Bette reveals a preference for rose gold in four out of his six designs in this series, all of which are rings incorporating another stone such as pearl, ivory, diamonds and aquamarine. One of the rose gold rings includes an aquamarine stone with three diamonds, and is dramatically asymmetrical in style with extruding elements. Although not recorded as part of this series, Franz Bette won first prize in the 1968 De Beer Diamonds International Awards for his hair ornament, which incorporated diamonds, rubies and pearls on a gold shield.
Similar to the Silver Jewellery series, two of the most prolific designers documented in this series are Markus Huber and Max Andersen. Samples of Huber's designs in this series represent the period from 1970 to 1971 and encompasses a wide variety of styles and finishes. Huber's designs contrast between chunky, angular designs to soft, round designs. Some of his yellow gold items are combined with a white glossy material called cassine creating a contrasting tonal quality, and on another ring design Huber combines white pearls with black pearls for visual contrast. Max Andersen's designs in this series represent the period from 1971 to 1972. Similar to his silver jewellery designs, Andersen's rings are predominantly large and chunky, using precious and semi-precious stones. Many rings designed by Andersen feature a combination between hollow or solid cylinders, which are fused together within the confines of a larger cylinder. No designer is credited for approximately 32 items within this series, however many of the rings are similar in style to Max Andersen's designs and it is possible that they were designed by him.
Another designer whose work is well documented within the gold jewellery series is Des Byrne, a qualified silversmith who joined the KDW in 1968 from a commercial company in Dublin. This series showcases his gold designs from 1971 to 1984, with many examples of traditional solitaire engagement rings and simple wedding band designs. The collection also includes some of Byrne's chunky ring designs, such as one yellow gold ring which featured four diamonds and four rubies on the surface of eight alternating square levels. Byrne was the 1983 RDS prize winner for one of his gold ring designs.
Other designers whose work is documented in this series include Gunter Hartmann and Liam Costigan. Three out of the four ring designs by Gunter Hartman are more restrained in style than his silver jewellery examples, two featuring simple square faced designs with green tourmaline or black spectrolite stone, another features a simple circular design with a raised sapphire stone setting. His final design is reminiscent of his intricately designed silver rings, this example in white gold with a large sapphire and 6 diamonds is free-formed and organic in style, with interweaving strands. Liam Costigan has two designs featured in this series, both made in 1978. One is an 18 carat yellow gold eternity band with 8 diamonds, the other design is a simple yellow gold solitaire set with a diamond.
Other work illustrated in this series include a gold horse-shoe shaped trophy on a spherical glass base by an unknown designer, and a chain of office designed for the Society of the Irish Motor Industry in 9 carat gold with inscriptions on the individual links. This 1976 chain of office was designed by Peter Dabinett, a designer in the KDW graphic design department. A set of cufflinks were designed for the National Film Studios of Ireland using their spiral motif which was also designed by the graphic design department of the KDW. Another two designs by unidentified makers are modelled on Irish Iron Age jewellery using the repoussee technique of concentric circles. Finally Jim Kelly produced a single gold bangle featuring Celtic patterns in 1979.