New York jewelry designer Jules Kim views the world through a unique lens, where pixie queens and pop divas wear her creations like they’re living, breathing creatures. She talks self-expression, sweating it out and the beauty of imperfection with Ruby Warrington. Photos: Annie Powers. Styling: Raquel Griffin. Hair: Sayo Takegami. Makeup: Deanna Melluso.
The latest collection is a re-birthing of your signature pieces – when was the last time you felt re-born? Why?
It was just a few days ago in Paris. I walked from the showroom I was based in in Palais Royal to Rue de Rivoli, where I saw my pieces on display in the Louvre’s retail boutique…none of my contemporaries were there to share this moment with me – none of my family, none of my friends – it was just for me…It was an overwhelming and humble feeling to allow a success such as this radiate through me…
How did that feel, physically?
I had been running from appointment to rendezvous, so exasperated, and my heart stilled and stopped racing when I stood in front of the glass jewelry case with the Bijules pieces shining beneath it. Like little emblems of hope, I was so proud.
You must feel very connected to your creations…
Bijules has been a passion project and always will be, and I believe that to have had developed something so heart-driven means it will grow into exactly what I intend it to be.
It strikes me that you see things with different eyes to other people. How do you maintain your unique worldview?
It has something to do with being an open and honest human being with a great compassion for others, almost to a fault…
I often find myself leading others to finding something they love, be it a person, a place, or even a job. But sometimes I can give too much and not ask for anything in return, and karma is not a single player game! As an artist, I search for and absorb beauty 24 hours a day, any place I am…and I believe humility will always enrich my view of the world and allow for my original ideas to take shape.
Where did you ‘learn’ this – were you the same as a kid?
I’d like to hope so. My mom showed my sister and I how real beauty is natural and cannot be preconceived. I am half Korean and not one of my childhood friends could understand that, so most of my childhood I was searching for different looking things. Knowing they were different made them akin to me.
What is perfect about imperfection to you?
Classic…I say that alllll the time! I find perfection completely unattainable, just as success is always subjective. But it is the pursuit of perfection that gives me satisfaction. Even if the end goal is constantly evolving to suit the actuality of the pursuit.
Somebody told me that in New York, no-body will take you seriously until you’ve tried and failed at something. Because real strength of character comes from picking yourself up and trying again. What have been the most useful mistakes you’ve made?
There have been a combination of repeat offences when I’ve tried to work overnight miracles for celebrities. I guess I’ve learned that unwavering honesty and real originality are what lay the groundwork for true success.
What other major life lessons have you experienced?
I was raised by a single mother who struggled to find her own happiness and I saw very clearly that life is more complicated than one might ever assume. I feel gifted and blessed to have the capacity to love and expand my own experiences into a tangible product. In that way, Bijules is actually a platform for expression and altruism.
Do you have a daily spiritual practice or touchstone?
There’s no definitive deity to whom I pray, but I look deep into myself to provide as much stability and reflection as I am capable of. It is my environment and those who I choose to populate that environment who provide the most support. I also hit the gym, Russian spas and saunas for a good sweat three times a week. I’m an extreme kinda girl! (Read Jules’s report on her Icelandic sweat lodge experience here).
And what about any sacred rituals you bring to the design process?
I am a storyteller, and I use both metals and marketing to weave these faceted tales of life, love, failure, success, and happiness. But my creative process relies heavily on exchanges with my staff, production team, and clients.
But do you meditate or do anything else to bring about your best creative ideas or state of being?
I have to sketch and physically record my creative sessions. The paper trail then serves as a relic to refer to as the ideas evolve. I draw when I’m in the air, on planes. Being disconnected is true bliss.
You’ve used your own body in your designs, is this so your clients are literally wearing a piece of you?
It is. Some might perceive this as an ego driven thing but in fact, it is the exact opposite for me. My body is just a human body. We all have one. So the idea is to celebrate that by making jewelry for each and every one!
You design for hipsters, celebrities and…elves?
Haha, cute! Yes, when I made my gold ear tip, I decided to sell it with a little bag of gold dust. I imagined a hot ass elf chick walking into a club before exiting to the bathroom to apply her party. She opens her black box of pixie magic and inside is a golden elf ear with a bag of 3 pennyweights (jeweller’s unit of measurement) of gold fairy dust. She dips her Bijules ear tip into the gold mess and as she slips it over her own. The dust falls around her shoulders and into her hair. Now she is ready to get a drink…
So which alternate realm are you incarnated from?
I’m not sure, but I do feel like an old soul whose ideas seem to be way ahead of the curve – and I thoroughly enjoy being first.
Il futuro is….?
Il futuro is Italian for ‘the future’….and mine is paved in gemstones, semi-opaque black diamonds flipped upside down and lots of crazy pieces, made for a few good people.