Jewelry designed for the stars

Garnet Wrap Necklace

A simple shopping trip and a creative spark led former Hollywood casting director Mindy Johnson to the world of jewelry design, where her unique approach leaves the real beauty to the face of the person wearing her piece.  While many designers create jewelry with multiple stones and pendants that strive to be art pieces, Johnson creates work intended to compliment the woman wearing the design.  Hollywood seems to agree with the concept; some of her celebrity clients include Alyssa Milano, Elaine Hendrix and Kim Williams Paisley.

Five years ago, after spending weeks combing countless jewelry counters searching for a birthday gift, Johnson found herself less than thrilled with the designs she was seeing.  With a kernel of an idea of what she wanted, she set out to make her own creation.  A jewelry designer friend showed her how to knot, and Johnson shopped LA's jewelry district for a strand of pearls.  Her friends - and the recipient - loved the necklace and Johnson found a new passion, all from a simple shopping misadventure.  She enrolled in the Otis School of Design and started studying jewelry design, still viewing it as a mere hobby, something she could dabble at while maintaining her full-time casting career.

Ruby Chandelier Earrings

It was not to remain a hobby for long.  While  casting the Andy Dick Show for MTV,  the show's costume designer approached her and asked where she bought the jewelry she wore to work each day - which were, of course, her own creations.  The next day, the costume designer was poring over Johnson's collection, not only pulling pieces for the show, but encouraging Mindy to put her designs on the market.  That nudge was all she needed.   Johnson left her Hollywood job to glamorize its residents with a new endeavor, the launch of her own jewelry collection.

Her friendships with actor Christopher Walken and comedian Richard Lewis provided an early lesson that influenced  her ideas about  jewelry design. One night while enjoying dinner together, Johnson remarked that her two friends seemed to always be dressed entirely in black. Mindy smiles when remembering Walken's response. "Christopher, in that way he has, smiled at me and said, 'The clothes are the just frame.  The face is the painting.  You don't put a painting in a frame that draws attention away from what you're supposed to be looking at. '  Johnson never forgot what Walken said.  When she began designing in earnest, she set out to create dramatic pieces with vivid colors.  Rarely mixing stones, which she considers distracting, Johnson looks for strong, unique stones that can stand on their own and create the clean, frame-like effect she is trying to achieve.

"I want a woman to think, not that she's wearing a beautiful piece, but that she is a beautiful woman.  I want my jewelry to make a woman feel so confident that she feels she can accomplish her goals, whatever they are. Even being CEO of her company!" she says with a laugh.

Her jewelry has certainly given Johnson that confidence. She recently left behind her career as a Hollywood casting director to form her jewelry design firm.  Her pieces can be purchased in various boutiques including Jennifer Kaufman in Los Angeles.

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