The jeweller Rudolf Heltzel

Rudolf Heltzel, born in Berlin, has been a key figure in Irish craft and design for 50 years. His sumptuous jewellery, made with gold, silver and precious stones, has given his workshop in Kilkenny international standing.

Jewellery design by Rudolf Heltzel Image Courtesy of Rudolf Heltzel Studios Heltzel was a child of the war, born in Berlin in 1941. His father, a church artist, ended up as a prisoner of war in the USSR. Rudolf was evacuated from Berlin to Poland with his mother and brother, where they remained until all Germans were expelled in 1946. Heltzel trained as a master goldsmith in Berlin and then worked in Sweden for three years with the famous jewellery designer Sigurd Persso. When was 25 he received an unexpected offer from the Irish Trade Board, which was attempting to improve the quality of Irish design. Its main initiative, the Kilkenny Design Workshop, had failed to get off the ground. Heltzel worked at KDW for two years, helping to establish it as the centre of modern Irish design, before setting up his own studio in Kilkenny, which he ran until 2010 when he handed it over to his son Christopher.

Heltzel’s pendants and rings are boldly geometric, drawing on the Art Nouveau and Bauhaus movements as well as on mediaeval techniques. But their vivid colours also hark back to his father’s church art and to the richness of early Irish Christian metalwork and illustration. After 50 years, his vibrant fusions seem deeply rooted in both his native and his adopted countries.

Fintan O’Toole

Rudolf Heltzel Studios
10 Patrick St
Opening Hours
Monday - Saturday 9.30 - 13:00, 14:00 - 17:30
closed 1pm - 2pm