LA's Jennie Kwon knows what it's like to live different lives. Before she landed on the fine jewelry shelves of Barneys and Catbird just a year after launching her eponymous line, the Young Guns talent was a corporate lawyer. Before that, the local designer was a classical violinist who performed at big-marquee venues like Carnegie Hall. (NBD.)
Born and raised in the Valley, Kwon decided to return to her creative roots after going on maternity leave. After dabbling in a variety of art classes, she found her calling in metalsmithing and jewelry design; not long after, she began crafting her signature minimalist-luxe pieces bedecked with precious gems. Without the internet, her explosive success wouldn't be possible, Kwon tells us. Now back in the Valley—"I swore I'd never go back!" she exclaims—the super-sweet mama of twin toddlers (!!!) continues creating her 14k gold cuffs, earrings, rings, and more incredibly luxurious stunners from her home studio.
We sat down with the self-professed jewelry "gangster" at Naturewell in Studio City, where she revealed which stylish hip-hop star got her starstruck, her favorite holiday, and more.
What are you drinking today?
A coconut date smoothie. I love the creaminess of it and the occasional sweet chewy bits of dates. It's substantial, nutritious, and actually tastes good!
What's the last great movie you watched?
A toss up between Inside Out and Straight Outta Compton—a reflection of my life as a mama and a (jewelry) gangster. [Laughs] Loved Inside Out for its thoughtfulness and message that sometimes you need to deal with the less pleasant stuff to get to where you ultimately want to be. I'm a sentimental sap, so I was crying throughout most of the movie. And Straight Outta Compton was just a really well-made social commentary on the times with amazing music and actors. It's the music I grew up on so there was a nostalgic factor also.
Least favorite color?
I think there's a time and place for every color to shine in all its glory—especially out in nature. I used to dislike pink and swore that when my daughter and son were born, I wouldn't let it into my house, but even pink—the softness and warm welcoming glow of it—it's grown on me!
A hard one since each is amazing and even more so when you realize that every stone, even the craziest of them, is created naturally in our earth (unless treated). But I'll have to go with diamonds. Really, nothing can parallel the amount of brilliance from a well-cut stone, even when as small as one millimeter—it takes your breath away.
Most adventurous thing you've ever done?
Maybe trekking up to Machu Picchu for four days? That's an experience that should be on everyone's bucket list.
If you could, what would you rename yourself?
Nothing. I love my name and the colorful story tied to it.
Ever gotten starstruck?
I live in LA so I don't usually get starstruck by virtue of someone being famous, but I do get starstruck by super talented or extraordinary people. I did get all high school giddy when I ran into Andre 3000—something about his charisma, swagger, and intelligence. And also when I performed with an incredible violinist named Maxim Vengerov and was shooting the sh*t with him afterwards. Got all tongue tied and shy.
Would you rather win $1 million or never have to pay for anything ever again?
As a child, what was your dream job?
When I was 6 or 7, I would spend half my time digging through the cracked asphalt at my elementary school pretending to be a paleontologist, and the other half doing people's hair and makeup. So I guess a toss up between a scientist of some sort and someone in the beauty industry?
Shaken or stirred?
Uh, Thanksgiving! Highly caloric food alongside my favorite people during the my favorite season.