Sunday, July 31, 2016

New Irish and Celtic Jewelry from TJH.
Once again we have stumbled across some Irish jewelry and Celtic jewelry in our inventory that had not yet been published to  Truthfully, we didn't find anything, we knew that we had the jewelry, I was just too lazy to add it to the site.   The jewelry assortment is from TJH, one of the largest precious metal jewelers in Ireland.
We" found" this eclectic group of TJH jewelry that includes Children of Lir jewelry, Claddagh rings, Claddagh earrings, Celtic rings and silver Celtic wedding bands.  We also added some Celtic cross necklaces and a couple of  bracelets with Irish and Celtic symbols.   Some of these items are well stocked or are available for re-order, and some of the other jewelry pieces are retired and limited to stock on hand.  Visit our New Irish Gifts page to see all the "new" TJH jewelry in one spot.
One of the new pieces is a Sterling silver, Children of Lir, charm bracelet that features four swan charms; one for each of Lir's children that were cast into a spell according to the Irish legend.  At 15% off, the Children of Lir charm bracelet is our special of the week.
If you would like to read the Children of Lir legend click on this link: Children of Lir jewelry.

If you are familiar with you will know that we have long featured Claddagh wedding rings and Celtic wedding bands from the TJH Eternal Celtic Wedding Band collection.  These Celtic wedding rings are great sellers and we will continue to feature them on our site along with adding new product from TJH.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Happy Anniversary to The Irish Gift House!

The month of July marks two anniversaries for The Irish Gift House.  On July 5th we marked 23 years in business, and 3 years ago, on July 27, we transitioned to an all on-line Irish gift store.

Kerry and I, with help from her dad, Rod O'Neal, spent the 1994 Independence Day weekend putting the finishing touches on The Irish Gift House in Tempe, AZ so that we would be ready for the grand opening on July 5th.  We did all the build outs ourselves and felt that we had created a charming representation of Ireland in the middle of the desert.
The Irish Gift House - Brick and Mortar
We had a great assortment of Irish gifts, that just like today, focused on Irish jewelry, that included Claddagh rings and Claddagh jewelry, and Celtic jewelry, that included Celtic Crosses and Celtic wedding bands.  All we needed opening day was a few customers.
At first our customer base grew slowly and then all of a sudden, the flood gates opened up.  By our first Christmas we knew that we would be around for a long time and Kerry and I were really having fun by our first St. Patrick's day.
Over the years we have served multiple generations of customers.  We have sold Claddagh wedding rings to couples, who then bought Claddagh rings for their children, and have now bought Irish gifts for their grandchildren.  We sure made a lot of friends along the way.

With the introduction of traditional Irish food, we found out just how many Irish immigrants had settled in metropolitan Phoenix area.   With their Irish brogues and their friendly Irish demeanor, these Irishmen and Irishwomen added to the Irish atmosphere of our store.

As the years progressed, our store was so crowded with Irish gifts and jewelry that we were concerned the Tempe fire marshal would shut us down.   Except for some narrow passages, every inch of The Irish Gift House was utilized for display.  We had eight jewelry display cases that included seven vertical displays!  Just like today, we had every conceivable Celtic knot necklace and earrings, shamrock jewelry, Claddagh ring, Celtic Cross necklace and Celtic wedding band an Irish heart could desire.  And were we busy, but then came the internet.  We were still just as busy, but in a different way.

Thankfully we had a heavy presence on the internet with our site,, and our on-line sales of Irish gifts keep growing as the web evolved, but we also noticed that our in store traffic was slowing down.  Internet sales represented about 10% of our sales early on, but by 2012 we noticed that over 60% of our sales were on-line and the trend was growing.  Or brick and mortar store was becoming a glorified warehouse for the internet.  By the time we completed the transition to all on-line sales our store traffic was only 30% of our total sales; the decision to evolve was almost made for us.

Until the next big change in retail, you will find The Irish Gift House on the internet.            


Saturday, July 16, 2016

The O'Connor Jewelry Heist.

Kerry and I first met the very affable Jim O'Connor in 1995 at Showcase Ireland, the annual Irish trade show.  We had already been selling Irish and Celtic jewelry from his company since opening The Irish Gift House in July of 1994, but it was nice to finally put a face to the name.  O'Connor was our principal Irish jewelry vendor throughout the 90's and on one of his sales visits to us in Arizona, Kerry placed an order of over $90,000.00.  Jim told us it was his largest single order; we sold a lot of O'Connor Jewelry in those days.

 Jewelry form O'Connor sold well, and it should, as it was the then Thomas O'Connor and Sons that opened the Claddagh ring market in the US.  O'Connor became the largest manufacturer of Irish jewelry and was well known in the Irish market as well.  On more than one occasion we had Dublin customers in our store reminisce that "O'Connor's Diamonds" was the place to go for engagement rings.
On the surface O'Connor was strong, but the reality was O'Connor was fighting back from one of the largest gold and diamond thefts in European history.   In 1983, O'Connor was victimized by Martin Cahill, The General, when over €2.55 million in gold and diamonds were stolen.
Cahill's gang identified a weak point in O'Connor's security system as they forced their way into a boiler room which was not connected to the alarm system.  They waited overnight, and when the staff arrived they pounced and forced them to open the safes.  O'Connor was dramatically under insured and it forced them to reorganize with the loss of over 100 jobs.

The General was gunned down by the IRA in 1994 and  Jim confided that when he heard the news on his car radio he pulled over and "had himself a smile."

In 1998 a movie, The General, was released about the nefarious life of Dublin crime boss, Martin Cahill.  Jim didn't appreciate any notoriety for Cahill and refused when asked if O'Connor Jewelry, the site of the robbery, could be used in the movie.

After the theft, Jim took over his father's business, re-branding it James S. O'Connor Jewelers.  O'Connor produced a quality product, but their market share was eroding mainly due to their long turnaround time.   Not wanting to encourage another thief, O'Connor kept a minimal amount of precious metal, gems and finished product in stock; everything became made to order and the wait times for his jewelry became a two month endeavor.  Unfortunately this practice resulted in many lost sales.   On more than one occasion wedding bands didn't arrive in time for the ceremony.   Naturally, his customers, The Irish Gift House included, gravitated toward other suppliers of Irish jewelry who offered weekly shipments.
Sadly Jim passed away around 2005 and O'Connor Jewelry went into liquidation a couple of years later.

O'Connor didn't embrace the internet age and until now we never added our stock of O'Connor Jewelry to our site,  If you would like to take a look at what is probably the largest collection of O'Connor Jewelry in the world, we have finally published around 100 pieces; see them all in our New Irish Gifts section.