Interview with LA jewellery designer Katkim’s Katherine Kim

Katherine Kim's LA-based jewellery brand specialises in sustainable designs with unexpected shapes and has been worn by the likes of Charlize Theron, Rihanna, Gemma Chan, Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga

Katherine Kim’s Katkim jewellery label is based in Los Angeles. The designer studied at both Central Saint Martins in London and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York before establishing her brand, which is known for its sustainable fine jewellery, that has an eye for unexpected silhouettes and clean lines. Worn by the likes of Charlize Theron, Rihanna, Gemma Chan, Lady Gaga, Lupita Nyong’o, Dua Lipa, Angelina Jolie, Gigi Hadid and Maggie Gyllenhaal, all pieces are handmade and created with the aim to support the local community. Here, she shares with us her journey…

Katkim floating ring
Katkim floating ring

What is your first jewellery memory? 

My earliest memory of jewellery has to be my mum’s beautiful jewellery box made out of mother of pearl that she hid in her drawers. She didn’t have the biggest collection of jewellery but everything she had inside the box looked and felt so special to me at the age of five or six. I remember I would secretly take her box out of the drawers whenever she wasn’t around and play with them inside her closet. 

When was the eureka moment for establishing your own jewellery brand? 

I started off designing private label jewellery collections for the big fashion brands who did not have an in-house jewellery design team. I spent a few years designing collections for them and got discouraged over time as fashion jewellery moves so quickly and the whole process of design and production were not worthwhile. I wanted to work in a more ethical and responsible way, not just on a material level but supporting our local communities and creating pieces that can live on for more than just one season. It was when I got pregnant with my first daughter that I mustered up the courage to take the leap on starting my own brand built on that ethos. Becoming a mother instilled a deeper intention behind what I wanted to do and why I do what I do. 

Katkim emerald earrings
Katkim emerald designs

What is a typical day like? 

I am a mum of three kids and with my third being only six weeks old, lately my days have not always been going as planned. But generally my day starts at 5am with meditation and by 6am it’s a full-on hustle with the kids, making their breakfast and getting them ready for school. Once the kids are out of the house, I check in with my team and run through the agendas for the day. By 10am I dive right into work, whether it’s Zoom calls with clients, pulling references for a meeting, sourcing materials from our suppliers or designing the next collection. By 6pm I like to close out and spend the rest of the evening with my family and try to be in bed by 10pm. 

How would you describe the style of the brand? 

Timeless and modern combined with subtle attitude.

What is a key signature style or piece?

 Definitely the Ear Pins. It is the core and staple of our brand. 

Katkim pin
The signature Katkim pin

What’s coming up that we need to know about? 

We’re working on a new bridal collection which I’m incredibly excited for. Over the past years I’ve been lucky enough to create many bespoke engagement rings for lovely couples who had struggled to find something that suited them and it inspired me to create a collection that can be completely customised with different stone options and metals that allows for our clients to have the perfect piece.