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Kimberly McDonald's Rock Candy

August 4, 2010 |  4:00 pm

In just two short years, Kimberly McDonald has made a name for herself as an independent jewelry designer with a unique look, mixing high and low, precious and imperfect, using rough geodes alongside diamonds and gemstones.

And now, the New York-based talent has her sights set on L.A. She and her "babies," as she refers to her six pet Chihuahuas, are renting a house in the Hollywood Hills. By spending more time here, the designer is hoping to channel even more of the West Coast into her work.

"In some ways, I think my jewelry is more L.A. than New York," she said over breakfast at Soho House West Hollywood on Tuesday. "New York is too conservative. Here, women love color and layering. My pieces can go from jeans and a T-shirt to the red carpet. They're earthy."

A native of North Carolina, McDonald fell into jewelry design after a career as a makeup artist. She started buying jewelry for her clients, then making her own.

It wasn't such a stretch, she said. "I have always been a rock nut. I used to sit in my grandma's driveway for hours picking the agate out of the gravel."

McDonald got her real education in stones by working for a diamond brokerage firm in New York City. She launched her line in 2008 at Bergdorf Goodman.Studs

It was, as the clich√© goes, an instant success. I first noticed a pair of McDonald's geode earrings on Joan Burstein, the style icon and owner of the retail emporium Browns in London. "She is one of my biggest fans," McDonald said.

In addition to geodes, she also works with exotic-sounding zebra opals, Australian sunstones and mandarin garnets. Her version of the hoop earring is a more natural-looking, imperfect oval shape, covered in tiny stones.

McDonald also has reinvented the macrame friendship bracelet, with geode or turtle-shaped diamond charms. (Profits from the turtle design benefit the National Wildlife Federation.) Prices range from $1,600 for a macrame bracelet, to $150,000 for one-of-a-kind pieces.

Halle McDonald already has quite a celebrity following. Sarah Jessica Parker wore her jewelry in "Sex and the City 2," and Halle Berry chose her earrings for the Golden Globes.

She also has an ally in Patrick "The Dandy" McDonald. The former model-turned-fashion-world-fixture is known mostly for dressing in his dandy best and getting his picture taken. Patrick also appeared on the reality show "Launch My Line," during which time he wore the jewelry designer's cuff links and earrings.

Despite sharing the same last name, the two are not related. But they became fast friends when they met two years ago, so he's been traveling with the designer and helping out.

Although Patrick has been a figure in New York City since the Studio 54 days, he actually grew up in L.A. (Who knew?) So now that he and his friend are on his home turf, he's intent on showing her around. What's on the agenda? Lunch at the Polo Lounge with Julie Newmar, takeout Chasen's chili from Bristol Farms and the beach.

So far, she's in heaven. "Every morning, I wake up and say, 'I love it here.' "

-- Booth Moore


Photos, from top: Kimberly McDonald jewelry. Credit: Kimberly McDonald. Halle Berry at the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards show at the Beverly Hilton. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times