Margot McKinney’s Wild Orchid Earrings

At first glance, the cool-purple sapphires at the center of these orchid earrings might seem a curious match for the warm-pink rhodolites anchoring the (detachable) pendant drops. But it’s this unexpected union of hues—which reconciles completely in the petals’ mix of violet-toned gems—that makes these Margot McKinney danglers so dynamic. The Australian designer has a knack for surprising color combinations, which she chalks up to instinct. “Sometimes I can put two gems together straight away, and other times I can have a pair of gems in the vault for years,” she says. “And then suddenly—as if the universe were awaiting it—a pair will just come together. That’s what happened here, and it made for a very happy marriage.” 

Petal Power

“I like my jewelry to be textural and tactile,” says McKinney. “The fold-over of the petals is what makes it work.” She credits her team of craftspeople—located in Australia, Germany, France, Italy, and Thailand—for transitioning her design into glorious 3-D. “This level of work represents the capabilities of 2 percent of the jewelry handcrafting profession.”

Rock of Ages

Gems and jewelry “are really in my DNA,” says McKinney, who’s great-granddaughter to a diamond and jewelry merchant. “I’m forever in awe of the colors that come out of the ground. What nature produces is so much more intriguing than what man can make.”

Bloom by Bloom

The 18k gold earrings, priced at $86,000 on, feature two untreated purple sapphires (7.47 cts. t.w.) and a pair of rhodolites (12.94 cts. t.w.). They’re also set with 334 diamonds, 171 pink sapphires, 10 orange sapphires, 20 pink tourmalines, 16 purple sapphires, and two oval pink sapphires. 

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