Anita Ko is a Los Angeles-based jewelry designer whose unique and contemporary pieces have made fans out of celebrities, stylists and editors alike. In 1997, fresh out of NYU with a degree in Art History under her belt, the Pacific Palisades-native followed her entrepreneurial spirit and launched a line of handbags that first put her name on the map. Nine years later, the designer embraced her longtime passion for fine gems and luxe jewels and launched her collection in 2006. Today, Ko is known for her work with micro-pave diamonds, vibrant semi-precious stones and signature animal designs that mix elegance with edge.
When did you realize you had a passion for jewelry design? How did you make the transition from handbags?
I used to play with my mother and her jewels as a child. I knew then I had passion for gemstones, and as a child, I would always bead necklaces and make my own pieces. The transition from bags to jewelry began when I was 26. I felt I had enough experience then to transition into fine jewelry pieces.
Which animal is the most popular amongst customers? Why do you think that is?
My panthers, because they are sexy.
Why did you choose to design fine jewelry over costume? Do find resistance from the market at your price point?
I don’t wear costume, so it was an easy decision for me. I don’t find resistance at my price point.
Where do you source most of your stone?
All over. I go to gem shows and build relationships with dealers.
Pave settings have become very popular over recent years – what would you attribute this to?
It’s the best setting to show the beauty of diamonds.
Have you ever designed an engagement ring for someone? If so what did it look like?
Yes, many. They were all custom and individual to the client. I’ve done everything from flawless stones to engagement bands.
Is custom work a big part of your business?
Not really, but I definitely do some custom jobs for clients.
Women either wear the same jewelry everyday or accessorize differently on a daily basis—which girl describes you?
I wear some pieces everyday and then add the statement piece on evenings out. So both!
What’s the fashion culture like in LA? How supportive is it?
It’s very relaxed and so we love our accessories. It’s our way to express individuality—just because I have the same bracelet as someone else doesn’t mean we wear it the same…I may wear three at a time to express myself.
What are the differences between your New York and LA customer? US and international?
LA vs. NY: I’m finding there isn’t really a difference…most girls seem to buy what they love…but international clients love white gold.
Your website is so unique! Who designed it? How does it reflect you brand?
I’m actually going to update it, but I like it because it’s artistic and shows who I am: complicated and classic.