5 Questions for Jewelry Designer Kimberly McDonald

Jewelry designer Kimberly McDonald helped pioneer the trend for organic-feeling, colored stone jewelry more than a decade ago. McDonald began as a curator of private-client jewelry collections—an endeavor that led to her designing and producing custom pieces. “I think that having an eye for color,” she tells JCK, “and good taste is paramount to cultivating my design style—and it drew me to design as a profession.”

We asked McDonald, who’s currently quarantined in Atlanta, to answer a few questions about her business—and how she’s managing in the era of COVID-19.

JCKHow are you handling the quarantines and closures in terms of your business—what kinds of things are you doing to stay afloat? 

Kimberly McDonald: We have been working on our e-commerce, and that work has continued from home. Of course, like everyone else, I’m constantly mindful of the state of the economy. But I also have faith that this is a short-term time-out for the human race. I think there are valuable lessons to be learned, not the least of which is that we must take better care of this planet and be better stewards of the animals we share it with. For too long we have allowed certain people to torture, mutilate, and consume various species, some to the brink of extinction.

So although I’m concerned about sales, I’m focusing on the bigger picture—we need, as human beings, to look more closely at what is going on right under our noses. It’s not okay to bury our heads in the sand anymore. And if that [understanding] doesn’t come about naturally, I guess the threat of a pandemic should help some people open their eyes.

You’ve been influential when it comes to colored gemstones—what’s your take on how popular they’ve become over the past decade?

What I love more than anything about this time in fashion—and I will include fine jewelry in the category of fashion only for this purpose—is that more than ever, we’re empowered to wear what we love and what works for us and our lifestyle. I think this is a contributing factor to why so many colorful gemstones are getting more play in the marketplace. It’s no longer about what everyone else is wearing. It’s really about what you connect with and what you love and appreciate.

Are you still based in New York City?

My office is and has always been based in New York. We’ve been in the same building since we opened in 2008. However, I tend to be a nomad. Until two years ago I split my time between New York and Los Angeles. Now I’ve added a home base in Atlanta to the mix, but I’m still back and forth from Atlanta to Los Angeles and Atlanta to New York.

Which jewelry designers do you admire and why?

I tend to admire anyone who does their own work and doesn’t appropriate their designs from other collections. Off the top of my head, I would have to say James de Givenchy, Hemmerle, and Bibi van der Velden, to name a few.

What inspires you as a designer?

One hundred percent I am inspired by nature. I have a deep love and profound appreciation for this planet and the beautiful natural works of art [gemstones] that have been created over millions of years. I hope that in each design that I put forth the eventual wearer will connect with that piece of the earth and in some way develop a deeper-rooted love for this planet.

Top: Kimberly McDonald one-of-a-kind earrings with 102 cts. t.w. boulder opal double drops and 3.09 cts. t.w. marquise diamond frames and 3.15 cts. t.w. pavé diamonds set in 18k white gold with a black rhodium finish; price on request (photo courtesy of Kimberly McDonald)

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JCK Magazine Editor