Jennie Kwon knows how to create gorgeous minimalist jewelry, but she hasn’t always been a designer. Feeling creatively drained by the corporate law world three years ago, she took a three-week metalsmithing course on a whim. It felt like a natural fit, so Kwon decided to start her own line without a single connection in the industry. The risky bet paid off, because now you can find Kwon’s neo-classic ear cuffs and stackable rings inside Barneys.
Kwon took a break from the (very luxurious) grind to talk to DuJour about her design process and share some pro tips.
How did you define your aesthetic?
I liked the scale of delicate jewelry because it’s more comfortable to wear and you don’t have to think of it as special occasion type of thing. It may sound narcissistic, but I design the things I would want to wear. When I was breaking into the market, dainty jewelry was just on the rise, but the dainty pieces that were out there were very cutesy and overtly feminine. You know, hearts and bows on everything. So I took a step back and said, if not now, then when?
What are you inspired by?
Recently we’ve been incorporating a lot more color into our line and I think the inspirations are the stones themselves. These things are amazing. They’re all naturally occurring in our Earth and have these amazing colors. It’s a miracle.
What’s your best jewelry shopping advice?
Be familiar with the brand. It’s hard to make dainty jewelry in a durable, high-quality way because of the small scale. Gold is very malleable, so when it’s very thin it often breaks. You want to look for something that is handmade and made of hand drawn wire.
What’s your favorite stone to work with?
I think each one is beautiful in its own, but diamonds are just amazing. Nothing sparkles like a diamond does. There’s just something—even with people who don’t like them—where there’s this gut reaction that takes your breath away when you put them on. And the fact that they last through the ages also makes them amazing.