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Sunroom Q+A: Kim Dunham

Welcoming jewelry designer Kim Dunham, whose namesake line of hand-crafted, richly emblematic jewelry strikes the perfect balance between incredibly timeless and strikingly bold. 

We're thrilled to have Kim as part of the Sunroom family — and to have the chance to dive deeper with her on all things jewelry design, inspiration, pearl diving!

Can you share a bit more about your background and personal history — where you are from, what led you to design?
I was born and raised in Kentucky, and spent a lot of my childhood daydreaming and creating art. I think art was a way for me to escape into a world that was adventurous and exciting.
I’ve always been curious and drawn to beautifully designed things. In college, I took the traditional route and went to art school to study textiles and art history. The textile industry in the US in the 90s after I graduated was primarily dominated by larger factories, so the job market was quite limited for small, environmentally conscious companies (which was important to me). I worked making handmade, high end wallpaper for awhile... then I worked in galleries and museums until landing a job making costume jewelry. There, I learned bench and production skills and spent a number of years working for other fine jewelry designers and learning about the industry before starting my own line.

What is your design philosophy? 
Beauty in the imperfect; quality made to last lifetimes. 

What pieces of jewelry are in your "everyday" lineup — the pieces you return to again and again, or perhaps never take off?
A signet, of course. Double serpent coin pendant. Small Labyrinth coin pendant. Large Onyx Brutus Evil Eye ring. Two rope rings. The micro and mini Bombé rings stacked on my pinky. My Cartier watch and two bangles one on each wrist. All the pieces are engraved with symbols, messages, and dates that are meaningful to me.

What are some of your favorite materials to work with? Of all time, or of late? 
All time: Wax and Gold.
Lately: Watercolors and Diamonds.

You craft both intricately bespoke pieces and the classic offerings that are at Sunroom. Can you share a bit more about your process? 
The Bombé collection is a series of four solid gold dome rings that are timeless and weighted. They feel so luxurious on and are inspired by the pieces I saw women wearing in the 1970s and 80s. 

Where are pieces crafted? 
Most of my work is custom and based off of my clients' personal narrative. I send an in-depth questionnaire first to gather information that inspire my designs. My work is produced in NYC and each piece is engraved by hand by my production team. 

What's inspiring you right now?
Cartier Art Deco and Ritualism from around the world.

I always start my day with: Espresso that my husband brings me in bed...and not looking at my phone, but rather out the window into nature and snuggling with my dog, George. 

For me, 2023 is about: Getting the ideas out of my head and into reality.

In the next 3 months, I really want to: Travel, launch a semi-bespoke piece (first a pendant then a ring) and continue working on my ritual line of non-jewelry pieces.

A personal mantra or favorite quote: LUCEO NO URO: “I shine, not burn.”

The best purchase I’ve made under $100: Anything charitable that someone posts on instagram. Never underestimate a small donation.

My ultimate travel escape: A hut on an island with days spent pearl hunting (or learning any local ritual or craft). I’d love to spend time in Japan with the Amas.

My drink of choice: Tequila, it’s been my drink of choice for decades and I’m thrilled it’s gained such popularity. People use to look at me like a wild déclasse drunk when I would order it especially in Europe.

My creative/design ethos in three words: Timeless, Elegant, and Meaningful.

One thing I find myself recommending over and over again: OPEN meditation and movement app. And traveling to Egypt. 

Shop Kim Dunham jewelry at Sunroom.