Third-generation jeweler Mimi So started young in the business. As an eight-year-old, she gravitated to her family’s three jewelry stores in Chinatown in New York City. Immigrants from Hong Kong and China, her parents ultimately opened these three shops and So learned the trade early on. She was inspired to obtain formal training and attended Parsons School of Design and not surprisingly, wound up in the family business, extending the stores’ offerings, custom-designing pieces for clients, and adding her own designs to the mix. Ultimately, she established her own brand in 1998 and opened an atelier/corporate headquarters in New York’s diamond district where she collaborates with private clients for custom-made pieces and manufactures most of her jewelry.
In 2002, Neiman Marcus began to sell her jewelry and So began to attract a small and dedicated following of celebrities. After she designed wedding rings for David Bowie and his wife, Iman, many more bold-face names came calling. She clearly was making ripples in the business and by 2009, she was admitted to the Council of Fashion Designers of America. She even designed jewelry for the wildly popular television show, “Sex and the City.” Her designs continued to attract attention, so much so, that by 2004, Compagnie Financière Richemont, the behemoth French holding company that controls, among other luxe brands, Van Cleef & Arpels, Baume & Mercier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Cartier, Montblanc, and Shanghai Tang, made a deal with her company.
With the Richemont organization behind her brand, So was able to open boutiques in Beverly Hills and Tokyo. The firm became so successful that Richemont sought to take full control of the So name and brand several years ahead of the planned seven-year target. So decided she wanted to maintain ownership of her company and be the commander to steer her firm’s ship, so she bought back Richemont’s interest and has been in control ever since.
Bridal jewelry is a cornerstone of her collections, but not the core. She designs several fashion-oriented collections a year, in precious metals and with precious and semi-precious stones. Their looks are quite varied and illustrate the scope of her creativity. Piece is a collection that is highly geometric and linear. Bow is a line that relies on a sweet rendering of a bow, whether worked into charming, pave-set rings, or hanging pendants, and delicate earrings. Wonderland allows So’s fanciful and sometimes quirky design sensibilities to emerge—rings are topped with butterflies, lady bugs, bunnies, bees, and insects. The Zozo line is awash in all shades of azure and sky-blue, with fiery opals. So even designs some lively accoutrements for gentlemen — for example, her Citrine Whiskey Bottle cufflinks. A portion of her business is still custom creations as she continues to bring to life clients’ personal visions.