CIG: Who founded Solvar Jewelry? How did it get its start and become the reputable Irish jewelry brand it is today?
The Obernik Family
SOLVAR: Mr. Gustaf Obernik founded Solvar in 1941 when he began producing Celtic and Irish jewelry with just two employees. In 1972, his son Nick joined the business at No 10 Harcourt Street. The number of Solvar employees soon grew to over 40 including master craftsmen, model makers, and a design team. In 2002, grandson Marcus joined the company bringing it into the third generation. Throughout its long history and tradition going back over 77 years, Solvar has evolved to become recognized as the leader in the design and manufacture of Irish and Celtic jewelry. Nick and Marcus own and operate the company today.
Solvar Headquarters – No 10 Harcourt Street
What originally inspired the founders to begin making jewelry?
Gustaf spotted the opportunity to be one of the first (if not the first) to design and manufacture six brooches using Connemara, a marble unique to Ireland, in a piece of jewelry. President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie visited Ireland in June 1963. Suddenly, Irish Americans now wanted to go back to Ireland to visit family and rediscover their Irish roots, which created a demand for Irish jewelry.
The Claddagh Ring
What are a few of your most popular items?
The Claddagh ring is one of our most popular items. Celebrating love, loyalty and friendship, Solvar has been handcrafting Claddagh rings since the very beginning. A gift of love, crafted in Ireland by our skilled goldsmiths, it echoes a tale of devotion retold over centuries. Once upon a time, so the story goes, a young Irish sailor was captured and sold into slavery. Far from his native land, he held the memory of his sweetheart deep in his heart. He never forgot her. Years later, on his safe return to Galway his gift to her was a Claddagh ring. Forged with the skills he had learned during his imprisonment, it was a token of his enduring love. “With these hands I give you my heart, and I crown it with my love.”
What inspires new Irish designs?
Each piece of Solvar jewelry is individually designed, drawing inspiration from Ireland’s rich heritage and unique icons to provide a cherished memory of Ireland. Our master designers craft each piece in the finest detail to the highest standard, using centuries old craftsmanship skills.
A Connemara marble brooch
Are there pieces that have become classics and remained in production for extended periods of time?
Marcus reintroduced one of the original Connemara marble brooches first created in 1946. Connemara marble is referred to as “Ireland’s Gem Stone.” It is a very unique and rare form of marble found in the valley of the 12 Bens in Connemara, which lies in the heart of West Ireland. This beautiful marble, estimated to be over 900 million years old, gets its range of green color tones from the various natural elements only found in the limestone in this remote and rugged region on Irelands Atlantic Coast.