JCK Asks…Loree Rodkin

She used to book bands. Now she designs them.

All designers undoubtedly get a thrill seeing celebrities show off their pieces at the Oscars, the Emmys, or any other affair where Ryan Seacrest is asking “What are you wearing?” But Loree Rodkin scored the ultimate red-carpet moment in 2009 when Michelle Obama hit all the inaugural balls in a custom-made white gold and diamond signet ring, bangles, and 61 ct. shoulder-duster earrings. “When they called me, I asked them if they had the right jeweler,” the designer said of the owners of Ikram, the upscale Chicago boutique where Mrs. Obama first spotted Rodkin’s work. Rodkin did, after all, create the Bondage ring. Curious? So were we.

Age: 62

Number of years in the biz: 23

Number of employees you oversee: 28

Family/pets: Mother, sister, and a hamster

Describe your personal style: Fashion-forward with a rock-and-roll edge

First piece you ever designed: An 18k yellow gold and mine-cut diamond skull ring in 1988

A Loree Rodkin Bondage ring

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: My trend-setting articulated finger Bondage rings

Best piece of advice you ever received: “There are no rules”—make your own!

Worst piece of advice: “You aren’t artistic. Pursue another career” (by my art teacher in 8th grade)

First job: Modeling when I was 11; booking rock bands at the Whiskey A Go Go in Los Angeles when I was 19.

How did you get started designing jewelry? Rod Stewart gave me an old Cartier ring when I was designing his house in 1979. It needed repair. Cartier sent me to a workshop refurbishing vintage jewelry. Ben Besbeck let me sit on his bench every day after my interior design work and taught me how to make jewelry.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Directing—that was the path I got deterred from by a boy.

What’s it like seeing your jewelry on display in the Smithsonian? Surreal. I’m in the same museum as the ruby slippers. Can’t top that!

Why did you branch out, and why sunglasses, candles, and fragrance? Vanity. I’m making the things I use the most; between Elton John (a client of mine) and myself, we might own every pair of glasses ever made. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but close. I always made my own perfume, and originally wanted home products for me to use—thus, my fragrance line was born.

Items on your desk right now: A brown crocodile-covered iPad, a brown crocodile file folder for my papers, my BlackBerry Torch, and my Chanel wallet.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Fourteen micro-pavé grey diamond miniscule bands on every finger on my left hand, a grey diamond Bondage ring on my right, and a grey diamond arrowhead necklace.

Songs on your playlist: “With Or Without You,” U2; “Avalon,” Roxy Music; “The Reason,” Hoobastank;
“Just Like Jesse James,” Cher; “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” Frank Sinatra.

Exercise regimen: Ahhh…aerobic shopping


What did you have for breakfast? Melon, crepes, and coffee

Drink (daytime/evening): Sparkling water (evening); flat water (daytime)

Scent: Loree Rodkin Gothic I

How do you unwind? Hawaii and Bali…and mindless TV

Superstitious? Not in the least

Book you’re reading: Patti Smith’s memoir,?Just Kids

© Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Across the Universe

Book you’ve been meaning to get to: Keith Richards’ Life

Preferred news source: The New York Times

Main means of transportation: Range Rover or limo

Favorite movie: My friend Ian La Frenais wrote a little movie that was great—Across the Universe.

Who would play you in your life story? Cher

Personal motto: “Live without fear”

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