What inspired you to launch Kiki McDonough?
Both my father and grandfather were jewellers, and my family sold antique jewellery, so I have always been completely at home with fine jewellery; it was then other people’s confidence in me that inspired me to set up my own business in 1985. I’ve always loved coloured gemstones and thought they were underrated; they ought to be enjoyed and worn in beautiful designs.
The Kiki McDonough brand has grown ever since and is now recognised all over the world. There are 17 distinctive collections, as well as men’s cufflinks and an exclusive range of luxury leather accessories, all in my signature vibrant colours.
What fuels your imagination and how do you approach the design process?
My main inspiration comes from my customers and my own passions; I get many ideas from the ballet, and from flowers. I also find whenever I am away relaxing on the beach the ideas always start flowing! Once I’ve thought of an idea, I still need to make it easy to wear and beautiful. I judge jewellery on whether I’d wear it, and whether the girls in my office – there’s a huge age range – would wear it too. If everybody likes it, we’re on the right track!
How has ballet inspired you over the decades?
I adored ballet from a very young age and it was the inspiration for one of my earliest colour combinations. I went to see Sleeping Beauty and the Spring Fairy’s tutu was so beautiful, it inspired me to pair Blue Topaz and Peridot in a pair of earrings; everyone was sceptical, but it’s still our best-selling colour combination, 25 years later. And it was the shape of a tutu that inspired our distinctive double oval earring design.
What do you strive to achieve when designing jewellery?
Every piece I design should make the wearer look prettier than before they put it on, lighting up their face and making them feel altogether more positive. My jewellery should feel as comfortable and accessible as it does luxurious and joyful.
How would you describe the Kiki McDonough style of jewellery?
It is timeless and feminine; Kiki jewellery is not ‘bling’ and it doesn’t overpower. We all wear so much black, especially during the winter, and I have never met a woman who doesn’t look better when wearing a touch of colour on her ears or hands. All my jewellery is 18ct gold, and I design with versatility in mind; my jewellery can be worn during the day as well as it can at night and as work jewellery, and many Kiki McDonough earrings are detachable drops so can be mixed and matched. There are dozens of possible combinations!
What are the most rewarding, and challenging, parts of your job?
I love seeing people from all walks of life enjoy wearing my jewellery for every kind of occasion. A challenge is running an expanding business while keeping the creative side at the forefront. I do love the variation day-to-day, meeting lots of people and creating beautiful things – I couldn’t be luckier.
What’s next for Kiki McDonough?
The business will continue to expand into new regions by opening several new wholesale concessions in the UK and abroad. I have enjoyed working with talented women such as Cressida Bonas, Lauren Cuthbertson and Sabrina Percy, and I want to continue to persuade more women across the globe to wear coloured gemstones.
Kiki’s Favourite Things
– A beautiful pristine beach, and Ranelagh Gardens at the Royal Hospital in London
– Going to the ballet or watching Liverpool FC, who I have supported for years
– Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
– My British racing green Mini Cooper S
– Prada and Emporio Armani
– Coffee Cake
Favourite London Discovery
– A backstage tour at the Royal Opera House
Best Cultural Venues
– The Royal Opera House, Cadogan Hall and the Saatchi Gallery
Favourite Local Sights
– The Royal Hospital Chelsea, Chelsea Old Church and Albert Bridge
– Zafferano on Lowndes Street
Favourite Hotel in Europe
– The Hotel de Russie in Rome
Favourite Long Haul Hotel
– The Reethi Rah in the Maldives