Anita Ko – Los Angeles’
Top Jewelry Designer
Born in 1975, Ko was a first-generation Korean American who grew up appreciating what Los Angeles had to offer. Whether it was admiring bedazzled rich women at the Polo Lounge, punk rockers on Sunset and the dominant Mexican-American culture that keeps Los Angeles alive, Ko thoroughly enjoyed growing up in L.A. and seeing what each person brought to the table. In the eighth grade, she traveled to Venice Beach and purchased a silver ear cuff complete with feathers. Her love affair with jewelry pieces as unique as she is was born.
By 14 years old, Ko was making her own pieces. Shunning away from the gaudy costume pieces that dominated the 90s, Ko began to design pieces that were understated, classic and unique. Her father would regularly drop her off at the jewelry center, and Ko would find fine jewelry pieces to tinker with in an effort to create pieces that reflected Los Angeles. With each twisting leaf and vine, Ko quickly solidified herself as a force to be reckoned with. However, while people appreciated her jewelry pieces, Ko faced challenges breaking into the industry, partly because she’s a woman and not related to anyone in the business.
Many fine jewelry establishments are heritage businesses. Those that aren’t tend to be run by men. Ko quickly found herself shunned by suppliers, with many attempting to sell her materials for up to double what other jewelry makers were charged. Ko recalls many people treating her as a little girl who likely wouldn’t be in business after a year. While these attitudes may have discouraged some, Ko simply used the negativity as fuel to establish herself, and it paid off. Ko launched her line in 2006 and is now one of the top female designers in the industry, with her pieces being worn by celebrities all over the world.
Today, Ko works in Beverly Hills, facilitating celebrities and stylists dropping in as needed. While she used to visit New York reps on a regular basis, she’s now established enough for them to make a special trip to her shop each quarter. However, Ko knows certain clients will expect her to visit them, and she’s not afraid to meet her most loyal customers wherever they may be, such as her 2017 trip to Sydney to speak to Net-a-Porter’s most prestigious clientele. Winner of a 2016 Couture Award, Ko continues to push the boundaries of jewelry making, and with a client list that includes Michelle Obama, Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron, we can expect to see Ko’s designs on the red carpet for years to come.