Kimberly McDonald

Kimberly McDonald

Kimberly McDonald is sifting through piles of gold chains, geode pendants and colorful cocktail rings inside the master bedroom of her Hollywood Hills home. To the right of her bed is a row of sneakers that would make even the avid collector envious. Black and blue Nike Air Force 1s are nestled behind white Guccis with pearl details while a pair of patent leather Air Jordans tries not to outshine sparkly Giuseppe Zanotti high tops.

The North Carolina who now splits her time between LA, New York and Atlanta recalls her grandma’s style as having a possible influence on her. “I'd see her sit on her front porch dripping in jewelry, but wearing a housecoat.” Says McDonald. “She just had her own unique style.”

“It's about having the right people around you who are encouraging and who you can trust.”

The grounded glamour of both McDonald and her collection is likely what has been the biggest appeal of her namesake brand. They are pieces that have organic shapes and are inspired by nature, but happen to be made from gold, agate, geodes, emeralds and diamonds. There is a down to earth quality to everything the designer creates, making most items able to be worn daily. There are of course the showstoppers - earrings, pendants and rings that literally make you look 4 (or 5) times to fully take in their beauty and size.

Get familiar with McDonald’s line and it’s no mystery why she has gained a loyal following of celebrities and fashion fans. Michelle Obama has been her most notable, wearing the designer’s jewelry from the cover of Vogue to multiple major events including Barack Obama’s second inaugural ball, a 2012 England State Dinner and a 2011 China State Dinner.

McDonald recalls having always had an eye for color, shape and beautiful rocks, even from a very young age.

“I had always liked rocks, I collected them as a kid.” She says. “As a kid I would get rocks out of my grandma's driveway. It was peaceful to me. To me, a geode or an agate or an emerald or a ruby, they all still come from the earth and it's really cool that we can get them from the planet.”

After completing her GIA degree and curating jewelry collections for a cadre of wealthy clientele, McDonald struck out on her own quickly gaining the attention of celebrities and fashion insiders who became loyal fans.

As her presence grew, McDonald hired her first publicist who gave the designer a jarring dose of the reality of the fashion industry when it comes to non-sample sized women in front of and behind the camera.

When the two discussed the possibility of landing McDonald’s pieces or a profile story in Vogue, the designer was taken aback. “(The publicist) goes, "I'm just gonna be honest with you. They're not gonna put a girl your size in Vogue. You know, they only put thin, pretty girls in the magazine."” Recalls McDonald of the publicist’s statement. “And I was like, “I didn't ask to be on Vogue and I'm really offended."

Cut to a couple of years later (and the termination of that publicist) and McDonald landed the most coveted publicity any designer could dream of - then First Lady Michelle Obama wearing earrings made by the designer on the cover of Vogue in 2013.

“I sent that publicist flowers.” Says McDonald. “Luckily, when she said that to me about Vogue, I didn't cling onto it. Things can prey on your insecurity or your self worth very easily, so you have to be careful about how much you let in. And then you have to be careful, even just as things pass by you, what you're going to cling to and what you're not.”

The designer has since been recognized by her peers and the fashion industry as having one of the most preeminent jewelry brands today and has found a new confidence in her statement making personal style.

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