JCK Asks…Katey Brunini

She dines on air and designs with antlers: A chat with the colored-stone mix master

If there were a Cosmopolitan-style “Fun Fearless Female” award for the jewelry industry, Katey Brunini would get our vote. Brunini—who in August was named Fine Jewelry Designer of the Year by the Women’s ­Jewelry Association—will work with just about any ­material, from the most precious colorless diamonds to shimmering Australian Jundah opal to bone, moose ­antler, fossilized walrus tusk, cocobolo wood… She designs for science geeks (her twisty, double helix–­structured DNA pieces), arachnophiles (even Miss Muffet would have loved her diamond- and pearl-filled Spider Web jewels!), nature girls (her Twig line, which ranges from fashion to bridal), and warrior princesses (her Body Armor collection includes a silver shin guard). The San Diego–based Brunini isn’t afraid to mix it up, which we suspect dates back to her first job as a ­teenager: smoothie maker.

Gretchen Bayer
Solar Wind

Age: 40

Number of years in the biz: 20

Number of employees you oversee: 12, plus many subcontractors

Family/pets: Grace, the huntress cat

Describe your personal style: Eclectic

First piece you ever designed: Solar Wind for the Del Mar Fair in 1992

Brunini’s Dalai Lama commemorative coin

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: Commemorative coin for His Holiness the Dalai Lama event

Favorite gemstones: Big baroque pearls, opals

Best piece of advice you ever received: “Keep it simple, stupid.”

Worst piece of advice: I don’t remember, as I was not listening.

Chris Trayer
K. Brunini Tahitian pearl necklace

First job ever: DaKine smoothie maker (age 13)

How did you get started designing jewelry? Custom designer at J. Jessop and Sons

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Homeless poet 

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: See photo.

Gretchen Bayer
A bejeweled Brunini

Items on your desk right now: Antlers, coffee, ­highlighters, wooden ruler, rosemint lip gloss

Songs on your playlist: “Fango,” Jovanotti; “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” the Dead Weather; “Jewel Thief,” the Kills; “Dark Roman Wine,” Snow Patrol; “Ahir,” Prem Joshua; “Interfaith Prayer,” To Heaven and Beyond

Exercise regimen: Pilates, hiking, and anything in the ocean

What did you have for breakfast? Air

Guilty pleasure: Stilettos

Drink (daytime/evening): Wine (both)


First website you check every day (not your own!): Bank of America

Scent: Bergamot and grapefruit essential oils

How do you unwind? Reiki

What’s your favorite part about living in Southern California? I am a child of the world.

Superstitious? Overly

Book you’re reading: Serpent of Light: Beyond 2012, Drunvalo Melchizedek; Drive, Daniel Pink

Book you’ve been meaning to get to: The Bible

Preferred news source: Neighbor


Favorite movie: Il Postino

Main means of transportation: Foot, airplane

Favorite place you’ve traveled to: Spargi, island off of Sardinia (accessible by boat or canoe only)

Who would play you in your life story? The child of Meryl Streep and some random pirate

Personal motto: Tutto è possibile. (Everything is ­possible.)

More JCK Asks on JCKonline.com:
+ JCK Asks…Maximilian Büsser
+ JCK Asks…Erica Courtney
+ JCK Asks…Chi Huynh

Log Out

Are you sure you want to log out?

CancelLog out