Pret-a-Reporter

Jewelry Designer Margot McKinney Draws Inspiration From the Desert

Courtesy of Mannfolk PR
Margot McKinney (left) and Rubellite Tourmaline earrings

Ahead of her brand's celebration at Neiman Marcus, Beverly Hills on Tuesday, the fourth generation Australian jeweler opens up about whom she'd love to see in her gems and the one place in the world that has inspired her most.

Jeweler Margot McKinney's statement pieces — think bold cuffs and drop earrings adorned with orange and yellow sapphires, rubies and white diamonds — are not for the faint of heart, but rather for the woman looking to make an entrance. Need to punch up your ensemble for the next red carpet or black tie function? Look no further.

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Prior to her Tuesday evening fete at Neiman Marcus, Beverly Hills, where the designer will show off some of her most red-carpet worthy gems to stylists, Pret-a-Reporter sat down with the Australian designer to chat about her family business, her inspiration and her dream Hollywood client.

Pret-a-Reporter: We see that travel inspires you. Is there a particular place or trip that inspired you the most?

Margot McKinney: I find travel to be the most inspiring of activities. To take in sights and sounds, new surroundings, people and activity is immensely invigorating to me. I travel for well over half the year buying gems, visiting workrooms around the world and of course selling my jewelry.

I am always at my most creative after our summer holiday, which we spend at a beautiful beach in Queensland, close to where we live. The rambling house right on the beach is the perfect place to recreate and the sound of the rolling waves and the gentle swish of the breeze through the palm trees seems to stay with me for months afterwards. It is after this restorative holiday that my mind seems to overflow with new ideas for creations. 

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Why did you choose the desert as your inspiration behind this latest collection?

My obsession with travel inspired me to embark on a series of travel-related venues as backdrops for my jewelry. Every jewel has a story and I want to share the creative journey with my collectors. The desert is incredibly inspiring — the different lights, the intense heat and intense chill combine to provide the background to the story of the jewel. 

Of the pieces being sold at Neiman Marcus, do you have a favorite?

That is akin to asking if one has a favorite son or daughter ... It changes from week to week! 

How do you think the business changed or expanded under your stewardship? 

Being fourth generation in our 132-year-old business is extremely important to me, and I am very proud to be carrying on the McKinney name in business. The Margot McKinney business in the USA is in its 10th year, so it is this international expansion that is one of the biggest changes to the business. It is exciting, and I am encouraged by the growth year upon year.

Last week I was a sponsor of the G'Day USA Los Angeles Gala along with the Australian Government, Westfield and Qantas. This annual event is the perfect showcase for Margot McKinney in the USA, and I am proud of this prestigious alliance.  

What is a piece of advice from a family member about the business that you always try to follow?

Attention to detail has always been a family mantra as well as seizing opportunities as they are presented. Not being deterred by taking on something rather challenging is also a family trait. 

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Do you have a favorite moment where someone wore a Margot McKinney Jewelry piece on the red carpet?

Dita Von Teese wearing my earrings at a magazine launch party was a favorite. Also, last Thursday I was honored to have Australia's Foreign Minister, The Hon. Julie Bishop MP wear a piece on the red carpet at G'Day USA.

Who is your dream Hollywood client?

Meryl Streep! 

Many of your pieces are bold, statement-type jewels. Do you believe that a woman should pick one focal point when it comes to her accessories? Or do you like to layer multiple pieces on?

I love the way my collectors wear my jewels so creatively. Women who are confident of their own style can choose a couple of highlight jewels, such as earrings and a cuff or a collier and ring, and the rest just comes together. I am always humbled to see my jewelery being worn by my collectors and how they so wonderfully interpret their own style with these precious heirloom jewels. 

ALL EARS: Dita Von Teese in McKinney's diamond, sapphire and aquamarine bow earrings with 12.62ct Laguna blue sapphire. (Photo: Getty Images)

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