By Debra D. Bass
St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Jeanne Roberts Johnson is the designer and owner of GiGi, which created handcrafted jewelry that she describes and versatile and practical.
GiGi has a website store at GiGibyJeanne.com. GiGi jewelry is also sold at St. Louis-area attractions such as Missouri Botanical Garden Gift Shop; the airport and various boutiques, a hair salon and other businesses. Roberts, 36, is married and has a 4-year-old son.
Here is an edited Q&A:
Q: You’re a lawyer, why’d you start making jewelry?
A: I have been practicing law, as a transactional attorney, for more than 10 years. Prior to joining the Roberts Companies as general counsel, the first five years of my career was in private practice with a large law firm. In 2007, as a young associate, work was very time-consuming and stressful … I needed a stress-reliever, a hobby to unwind from long days at work, (and) I followed my innate desire to nurture my passion for design by handcrafting jewelry. Self-taught, this hobby soon became a passion when friends and family began to take notice and often commissioned me to design my popular earrings for weddings, bridal parties and special occasions. I soon found success in hosting trunk shows and parties where I could make my collection available to the expanding clients collecting GiGi jewelry.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I draw inspiration from real women like my mother and grandmothers, who have influenced my personal style since I was a young girl. I also credit much of my design aesthetic to my love of travel, music, art, high-end fashion and my own personal lifestyle.
Your pieces are really sparkly. Do you have any plans for making casual jewelry?
(Some) GiGi pieces are made with fine metals and semi-precious stones, for example, green jade, black onyx and red coral. A few of the all-metal GiGi pieces are the Neckgligee necklace, the Simple Cross necklace and the Vintage Gold Leaf set. What’s unique about GiGi is that all of the “sparkly” pieces can be worn casually. In other words, all GiGi pieces can be worn with casual attire in addition to formal or semi-formal attire.
Q: Can you tell us about one of your favorites?
A: One of my favorite GiGi pieces is the Antique Pearl necklace, an 8-foot-long necklace that can be worn in many different ways. It’s made with white Swarovski pearls, gold findings and an antique silver-plated chain.
Q: What’s next in terms of products and designs?
A: I will be adding my new GiGi line, the Interchangeable Magnetic collection, to the GiGi website. Every piece … is magnetic and can be used interchangeably. (Note: A pendant from a necklace can become an earring or an accessory on a bracelet. A bracelet can extend a necklace or become a lariat style pendant.)
Q: How much do your pieces cost?
A: GiGi earrings range from $20 to $100; GiGi necklaces range from $40 to $200; and GiGi bracelets range from $35 to $175.