JoJo talks jewellery essentials, tattoos and life lessons from Beyoncé

JoJo talks life lessons from Beyoncé, losing her lifetime collection of jewellery in an airport bathroom and what the future holds now that she’s said “I do”

Photography by Phil Knott, Story by Will Lavin

JoJo knows what it’s like to shine. The 31-year-old US singer-songwriter (real name Joanna Noëlle Levesque) has been at the epicentre of pop culture ever since the release of her groundbreaking debut single, Leave (Get Out), in 2004. Released when she was just 13, it topped Billboard’s Pop Songs chart and at the time made her the youngest artist ever to do so. Her self-titled debut LP sold over three million copies worldwide, as did its 2006 follow-up, The High Road.  

As she headed into womanhood, JoJo adopted more of a soulful R&B sound, earning her comparisons to the likes of Brandy and Mariah Carey. Dubbed a “vocal phenom” and praised for her upper-register flourishes, the next 10 years saw the Massachusetts native showcase her impressive vocal range and prolific artistry through a series of mixtapes, EPs and sold-out tours. She dropped her third album, Mad Love, in 2016, followed by her fourth, Good To Know, in 2020. Her most recent project was last year’s Trying Not To Think About It EP. 

But the luminescent glow of her impressive career isn’t the only thing that’s been shining. On her birthday last December, JoJo got engaged to Dexter Darden, the American actor best known for his roles in The Binge and the Maze Runner film series. Popping the question at a private gathering in front of their respective families, Darden proposed with a dazzling diamond white and yellow gold ring. “I can’t stop looking at it,” JoJo explains. “I’m obsessed.” The engagement marks the start of a new chapter for JoJo who says she’s taking a small break from music, not just to plan her wedding but to enjoy some of her other passions, jewellery being one of them.

Jojo Rocks Summer 2022
JoJo wears Bulgari jewellery

What are some of your earliest jewellery memories? 

JoJo: Being a ‘90s kid, I remember my interactions with big costume jewellery and the Dynasty-era style that my nana would wear, like big gold bobbles and clip-ons. I remember clip-ons being something I thought were really cool. I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was a little bit older. 

What’s the first piece of jewellery you ever owned? 

It was a gold locket given to me by my nana on my dad’s side. And because my parents were divorced, my dad put a picture of he and I inside of it. That kind of speaks to my relationship with jewellery, which is that I love the sentimentality of pieces. Unfortunately, I’ve lost a lot of pieces that have meant a lot to me because I’m an ADD girl and I don’t know where things are.  But those physical reminders of a loved one or a time, things like that, I just love. 

Jojo Rocks Summer 2022
JoJo wears Suzanne Kalan jewellery

Can you remember some of the pieces you’ve lost? 

I’ve acquired so many natural, beautiful turquoise rings from my travels to the American Southwest. I just love turquoise, plus it’s my birthstone being a Sagittarius. Unfortunately, a few years ago, I was washing my hands at the airport, I must have been tired, jet-lagged and in a rush, and I took off my rings to better wash my hands and left them there. This is actually what prompted me to get the turquoise tattoos I have because I was so sad to lose those pieces. I felt so powerful and royal wearing them. 

So your tattoos are a replacement for some of the jewellery you’ve lost? 

Yeah, because I can’t lose my tattoos. And the idea of a permanent accessory was something that was appealing to me. 

Jojo Rocks Summer 2022
JoJo wears Pasquale Bruni earrings and Van Cleef & Arpels ring

Where would you say your jewellery taste comes from? 

My nana on my mom’s side was an incredibly fabulous woman. She was a real estate agent and she really presented herself so fabulously with colourful adornments, from her clothing to her jewellery. She loved to match and make a statement and that really left an impression on me. When I was younger I would look through her bits and would always want to play dress up with her things because she had such cool things and that definitely left a lasting impression on me. 

Jojo Rocks Summer 2022
JoJo wears Tabayer pendant and hoop earrings

As someone who has been performing and touring for almost 20 years, what has been your favourite thing about being a musician?

The access to the world that it has given me. My heart really is in connecting with people, seeing parts of the world and seeing things that I could only have read about in books. It’s the coolest job ever. To call it a job doesn’t even feel right, even all these years later, because it is such a privilege.

JoJo wears Ananya jewellery and Cartier bracelet

What have been some of the most impactful encounters you’ve had with other artists?

I remember meeting Beyoncé at Solange’s birthday party when I was probably 17, and the fact that she was so kind and so present was very moving to me. She gave me a compliment on a cover that I did of [SWV’s] ‘Weak’ on my first album. I thought that was so beautiful.

What’s next for you?

I’m planning on living. There’s going to be a lot of writing, more travelling, planning a wedding and curating that special day, and thinking about how I want this to represent my next chapter.

Read the full interview in the summer issue of Something About Rocks, out now

Styling by Urbanie Lamas, Hair by Johnnie Sapong using Leonor Greyl, Make up by Shanell Sorrells and Nails by Nailroom

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