The natural beauty of Margot McKinney's jewels

Margot McKinney, Australia’s jeweller to the most individual and elegant women of the world, shares her love of opals and vivid gemstones.

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Margot McKinney Exotic Abundance opal campaign

A jewel that can transport you to another place is rare, but Margot McKinney is one of the few designers who is able to gently touch the gossamer-fine divide between reality and dreams and crystallise them into heart-achingly gorgeous jewels. If you don’t believe me, take a look at McKinney’s breathtaking bracelet, below. Featuring an Australian opal surrounded by Paraiba tourmalines, sapphires and diamonds, it is a lush tropical lagoon for the wrist, fringed with exotic vegetation. 

Margot McKinney signature satin finish yellow gold cuff with Australian opal, Paraiba tourmaline and coloured gemstone accents ($125,000).

Or her Exotic Abundance necklace below, which encircles the neck in a sea of ever-changing green, with water moving over sand banks, translucent shallows and mysterious depths, tipped with diamond points of light.

Margot McKinney's Exotic Abundance collier features myriad Paraiba tourmalines, coloured gemstones and Lightning Ridge opals ($695,000).

How does she do it? Margot describes herself as a perfectionist, but one with an unerring compass for mixing colours and textures and a sixth sense for stones. While the magic of Margot’s jewels may be in the abundance of lush colour and fascinating textures, her real skill lies in making each jewel as natural as a blade of grass.

Shunning the formality normally associated with jewels of this value and opulence, Margot dives deep into the colourful soul of each gem and frees them to shine in a new light, rubbing shoulders with gems rarely seen in the same company. Mother Nature doesn’t hold back on the number of colours on a parrot’s wing and nor does Margot with the the number or quality of stones in her jewels, which look equally at ease on the red carpet as they do on the beach at sunset.

Margot McKinney fan-shaped Australian opal and multi-coloured gemstone pendant necklace with tassel.

One of the stones that best captures Margot’s spirit is the opal, with its mesmerising play of colours that she believes evoke feelings of calm and escapism. “I love opals that look like they have been plucked out of the sea or from an exotic reef with an enigmatic play of blue and green to orange and pink,” she says. Finely attuned to the mineral wealth of her country, in particular boulder opals from Lightning Ridge in Australia’s New South Wales and Queensland, Margot marvels in their enigma. Found in the almost desert-like conditions of the harsh Australian landscape, boulder opals look as fresh as if scooped out of the Great Barrier Reef. Margot captures this contradiction and mixes sea-blue opals with grass-bright peridots or creamy pearls born in the ocean. “I am hugely drawn to Australia’s natural resources, including opals, which I love pairing with pearls and vividly brilliant gemstones from around the world. I find the mixing of colours so exciting.” 

Come behind the scenes of the Exotic Abundance campaign in the video below:

Margot is a dedicated gem-hunter and over the years has made friends with the opal miners at Lightning Ridge. “Much of the time they live very frugally, their days spent underground in the endless pursuit of finding a seam of colour which might hold the promise of a beautiful gem,” explains Margot of her close relationship with them. Equally, the miners have a clear idea of what Margot wants and will call her first when they find a special gem.

Margot McKinney Lightning Ridge opal and multi-coloured gemstone cocktail ring ($35,000).

The remarkable stones you see in Margot’s jewels find their way to her in a similar fashion. Gem-cutters around the world know that Margot is in the market for the most vibrant and exquisite coloured gems. “I was recently offered some extraordinary morganite from a private collection that hadn’t seen the light of day for decades and it is the most amazing I have ever seen. It’s the same for amethyst and old-world Santa Maria aquamarines that are so beautiful you want to dive into them. You just don’t get that quality and size of rough anymore,” says Margot.

But that is just the start. When Margot works her charm on them, she creates jewels that speak straight to the heart, earning her a following that extends all the way round the world. “My jewels appeal to women who are not dictated to by brands are strong and confident of their own style,” which is exactly how you could describe Margot’s jewels that, once seen, are never forgotten.

 

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