The Full Story

"I'm just sitting in my chair when a voice comes on the air, says: Why don't you try it? You'll feel alright!"

lyric: Know Your Product - The Saints


Johnny’s career has taken him from promoting Australian guitar bands such as Died Pretty, The Church, and the Exploding White Mice, to working with fashion icons, Julien Macdonald, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Owen Gaster, Stussy, and Evisu. 

image: Hand-painted guitar by Johnny Rocket 

design and made: Johnny Rocket Jewellery

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive 



Johnny's jewellery has been worn by or bought by models and celebrities such as Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Boy George, Kylie Minogue, Kevin Costner, Pharell Williams, Justin Timberlake, and Jim Parsons. He secured an unprecedented creative partnership with Swarovski – a collaboration credited with bringing the crystal design house’s wares to a new generation.

 image: Kylie lucky charms and dog-tags

design and made: Johnny Rocket 

model: Kylie 

photograph: Stephane Sednaoui



 Johnny has created instantly recognisable stage pieces for performers including Kylie Minogue (for the Come into my World/Fever tour), Jamiroquai (the famous warrior head-dress), and The Darkness’s Justin Hawkins.


image: The Darkness orchid crown, jewellery, and belt by Johnny Rocket

"I Believe In A Thing Called Love" Promo - The Darkness 

design and made: Johnny Rocket

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive



In the ultra-conservative Brisbane of his teens, Johnny couldn’t see the punk and rock bands he liked. So, he started hiring halls and bringing those bands to town.

Eventually, he opened the legendary Love Inn, a psychedelic haven for Brisbane’s musical outsiders, which operated in a Fortitude Valley venue.

Similarly, when Johnny couldn’t afford $300 Vivienne Westwood punk t-shirts, he designed his own, screen-printed and ripped them himself.

When big record companies wouldn’t give the time of day to the Brisbane bands Johnny was following, he launched his own label. Rubber Records released a compilation album with a libelous title (pulled and renamed thanks to the then-premier’s solicitor) but with all his favourite local acts now captured on vinyl. Johnny never let a little thing like ‘we don’t do it that way’ stop him.

image: Sterling Silver Fender 60th Anniversary Guitar- Born to Rock Book

design and made: Johnny Rocket



"Yeah Hup! There's gonna be a new race, kids are gonna start it up"

lyric: New Race - Radio Birdman


Johnny credits his technical prowess as a jeweller to the training he received at Wallace Bishop, and the education he received at the Kangaroo Point T A F E College of Arts. When he worked for Sydney opal specialists, Russell McCullough, he was given the freedom to get creative.

image: Orchidee Noire Silver and Leather Choker 

design and made: Johnny Rocket

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive


All those years drooling over Lalique’s art-nouveau designs, record covers and the stylings of rock stars such as Jim Morrison, the Rolling Stones, Patti Smith, Siouxie Sioux and Jimi Hendrix, were now channeled into jewellery drawings and designs.

image: Johnny Rocket Studio

design and made: Johnny Rocket

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive


Sydney couldn’t hold Johnny for long, though.

Especially not when a friend offered him a cheap around-the-world air ticket.

He packed his bags; his heart set on Barcelona – until he landed in London.

image: Swallow Collection

design and made: Johnny Rocket

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive



“It was the start of the UK’s Summer of Love with (bands) The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, the hippy music and the rave scene were all taking off. It was like 1966 in San Francisco, except focused on Manchester, Liverpool. I found a squat. And things started to get really interesting.”

 Johnny’s first job was with rock’n’roll jewellery shop The Great Frog in Carnaby Street. Here, he turned out skull rings and bangles, while identities such as Motorhead’s Lemmy, New York punk icon Stiv Bators and Guns’n’Roses’ Izzy Stradlin headed upstairs to use the shop’s band rehearsal room.

image: Front Cover Mixmag Gold Sov Rings

design and made: Johnny Rocket



"We wanna be free to do what we wanna do, and we wanna get loaded! And we wanna have a good time!

That's what we're gonna do!"

lyric: Loaded - Primal Scream


Next, he was offered a job running the workshop at a new young designers’ gallery, off Carnaby Street, called Jess James. A showcase for the emerging new wave of young jewellery designers, Johnny ensured the gallery mentored this talent, helping to establish Shaun Leane, Wright & Teague, Naomi Fulmer, Scott Wilson, Lara Bohinic and of course Johnny Rocket.

image: Mixmag DJ charms and MC dog-tags by Johnny Rocket

design and made: Johnny Rocket


For two years Johnny would design and oversee manufacture of millions of pounds worth of fast-fashion jewellery for street-wear label Stussy. At Jess James, Johnny pioneered the battered metal look and created glamorous, funky body piercing jewellery for clients including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

 image: Mixmag Ragga Gold Chain by Johnny Rocket

design and made: Johnny Rocket

Working in his own studio in the still-grungy East End, Johnny’s personal star began to rise. His own collections were inspired by the hip hop music he was listening to, with vitreous enamel and spray paint tags creating a mad cross of urban style and art-deco material. The pieces also caught the eye of another jeweller, who recommended Johnny meet upcoming fashion designer Owen Gaster.

image: Gold ID Chain Choker by Johnny Rocket

design and made: Johnny Rocket



The partnership between Owen Gaster and Johnny Rocket launched the duo into the London fashion in-scene. Runway shows in pool halls and other unlikely venues were set to soundtracks of hip hop, and drum and bass. Owen’s urban cuttings were set off by Johnny’s gangster-style black bling. They were so ‘must-see’ that at one show Vogue’s Anna Wintour was back row and Isabella Blow couldn’t get in at all. (Until Johnny spotted her and found her a seat!)

Johnny’s story from here on in is a crazy web of word-of-mouth, friends-of-friends, and ‘right place right time’..

image: Ragga Gold Bee Swarm Medallion by Johnny Rocket for Owen Gaster Runway - The Face magazine

design and made: Johnny Rocket



 "I know when that hotline bling, that can only mean one thing…"

lyric: Hotline Bling - Drake


 Suffice to say Johnny’s work with Owen led to DJs paying him ridiculous amounts to replicate those black bling pieces in pure gold. That led to Johnny creating crystal-covered bling for Julien McDonald’s first runway show, an ongoing collaboration that led to that ‘million pound dress’ – its price tag inflated largely thanks to Johnny’s corsage/sash of De Beers diamonds. 

image: "Fireworks" Diamond and Gold en-tremble' corsage million pound dress by Johnny Rocket - Julien Macdonald Runway

design and made: Johnny Rocket

model: Liberty Ross 

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive

 It led to him working with Kylie Minogue’s stylist William Baker and creating the silver Kylie ‘Star’ necklace and Manolo Blahnik charms that would sell worldwide. And this in turn led to a whole array of other Kylie collaborations.

 image: Kylie ‘Star’ Necklace by Johnny Rocket - Kylie Duet with Kermit -"An Audience With" - ITV Television

design and made: Johnny Rocket

 At the after-party of that first Julien McDonald show, the always-thoughtful Johnny saw a woman looking slightly adrift so invited her to join him. That woman turned out to be Nadja Swarovski. And, with that, a decades-long and truly ground-breaking creative collaboration began.

image: Bee Swarm Gold and Jet Drape Choker "Black Girls Rule" - Trace Magazine

design and made: Johnny Rocket



At first, Swarovski supplied whatever stock they had for Johnny to re-imagine into pieces for clients. But soon, Johnny was inspiring Swarovski to create new materials for him to work with. Johnny was cheeky and creative enough to ask for never-before seen materials such as crystal mesh (for raga vests), black crystal (for his gangsta-bling) and tiny crystal-pixel images (for a guitar).

image: In-sex Body Wrap by Johnny Rocket - Model Liberty Ross - Swarovski - Runway Rocks - VOGUE magazine

design and made: Johnny Rocket



  "The crystal ship is being filled, a thousand girls, a thousand thrills"

lyric: The Crystal Ship - The Doors


Along the way Johnny also dreamed up: A flapper dress in crystal threads(for Owen Gastor’s runway show – which made the front page of The Times newspaper - and Kylie Minogue ordered one as well.)

Select pieces for Alexander McQueen and scores of pieces for Julien McDonald’s runway shows for Givenchy

image: Swarovski Crystal Mesh Ragga Vest by Johnny Rocket - Sunday Times Style Magazine

design and made: Johnny Rocket

A custom guitar for Fender Guitars 60th anniversary 'Born To Rock' exhibition in Paris and London’s A new concept called ‘Runway Rocks’, cool parades where young fashion and jewellery designers used Swarovski to enhance their pieces.

image: "Love Hurts" Body Wrap for Swarovski Runway Rocks : London

design and made: Johnny Rocket

model: Victoria Keon-Cohen 

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive

 A two-week pop-up Johnny Rocket boutique in London’s Selfridges, when Johnny was invited by Coca-Cola to personalise Diet Coke bottles. The Coke execs celebrated by turning over their Trafalgar Square billboard to the Johnny Rocket coke bottle – the first time any brand other than Coke had been seen in lights there.

Together, Swarovski and Johnny Rocket were an exceptional team. And Swarovski honored Johnny with an exhibition of his work at its 5th Avenue office in New York.

image: Piccadilly Circus Billboard by Johnny Rocket for Diet Coke

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive



More people than Johnny ever imagined saw his handiwork when he worked with Kylie’s creative team for the Come into my World international tour.  John’s vision for Kylie’s body-moulded Star-Trek-type costume, and the opening number’s mechanised robot-pod had him working around the clock. Long, enthralling story short: after calling in favours and picking the brains of colleagues all over London, Johnny’s vision was unveiled. Audiences at Wembley Stadium and around the world were stunned when the pod opened to reveal Kylie in her crystal ‘Ky-borg’ cocoon.

The Ky-borg is now a feature of the Australian Performing Arts Collection based in Melbourne

image: Kylie's Kyborg Crystal Cocoon by Johnny Rocket with Swarovski - Kylie - "Fever 2002" Tour

design and made: Johnny Rocket

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive


"Threw away my old clothes, got myself a better wardrobe I got something to say"

lyric: Spinning Around - Kylie Minogue


Kylie emerged from the Swarovski Crystal encrusted interior of the Kyborg. The piece's movement is powered by a selection of high quality micromotors normally found in luxury vehicles like Mercedes. 

image: Kylie's Kyborg Crystal Cocoon by Johnny Rocket with Swarovski - OK Magazine

design and made: Johnny Rocket

Design rendering by Johnny Rocket and Edward Griffith. The design required a full body cast of Kylie and then a clay model built over the fiberglass model of her. She was very patient.

image: Kylie's Kyborg Crystal Cocoon Behind the Scenes by Johnny Rocket with Swarovski - La La La Book

design and made: Johnny Rocket

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive

The one way mirror finish for the androgynous dancers helmets posed a huge technical problem for the costume department until Johnny contacted the suppliers of the F1 teams driving helmets. We collaborated on the finish with their technical department. Problem solved.

image: Kylie's Dog-tags & Dancer's Helmets by Johnny Rocket with Swarovski

design and made: Johnny Rocket

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive




In the midst of the mayhem, Johnny found time to open his own gallery – a beautiful boudoir-type space overlooking the Cutty Sark at Greenwich.

Named by Vogue magazine as ‘one of London’s 10 coolest shops’ – even before it opened – the Johnny Rocket Gallery not only showcased works by Johnny, it also hosted the works of up-and-coming designers.

Johnny Rocket’s clients included many of his long-term showbiz and fashion friends, including supermodel Liberty Ross. He was also asked to design and produce wrap-party gifts for film productions – rocket cuff-links for the male cast of Hidden Figures, among them. Of course, the gallery wasn’t enough for Johnny. In his spare time, he and a friend launched the Greenwich Classic Car Show - Park It In The Market, a small fair that grew exponentially to be named one of the UK’s top 10 vintage events.

image: Jewellery & Watch London Award for Johnny Rocket 

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive


"Dirty old river, must you keep rolling, rolling into the night, people so busy, make me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright"

lyrics: Waterloo Sunset - The Kinks


The Johnny Rocket Gallery is opened as a physical representation of how Johnny wants to retail. Providing a comfortable boudoir sanctuary to escape to. With a relaxed atmosphere, knowledgeable craftspeople serving and a modern fully equipped workshop to create in. Johnny (hands on as always) guts the old building and with some mates rebuild it to amazing effect. It soon becomes a London destination for connoisseurs of modern jewellery design.

image: Johnny Rocket Jewellery Gallery London UK

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive 

concept, design and made: Johnny Rocket 


The Johnny Rocket Gallery is named in Vogue's Top 10 boutiques of London.

The unique displays and over 50 of the worlds best up and coming young designers ensure the gallery has earned its place.

image: Johnny Rocket Jewellery Gallery London UK

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive 

concept, design and made: Johnny Rocket


 The Johnny Rocket Gallery is a jewel box of delights. The designers present work in everything from ceramic, resin, to the obvious precious metals and stones. Every year for a decade, at least one of the designers represented wins Young Jewellery Designer of the Year. Stephen Webster, Shaun Leane, Hannah Martin, Kasun; the gallery roster is a who's who of modern jewellery achievers. 


image: Johnny Rocket Jewellery Gallery London UK

photograph: Johnny Rocket archive 

concept, design and made: Johnny Rocket 



In 2018, an illness in the family was all it took for Johnny to know where he needed to be.

“I’d done pretty much everything I wanted to do in London,” he says.

Now, in 2019, Johnny has brought Johnny Rocket Jewellery to Australia. He’s excited about creating custom jewellery in a different landscape with familiar accents. And he’s glad to be home.

image: Johnny Rocket Jewellery Classic Logo Revamp for Australia

design: Johnny Rocket & The Lime Lab


"I recall a schoolboy coming home through fields of cane to a house of tin and timber, and in the sky a rain of falling cinders"

lyric: Cattle and Cane - The Go-Betweens


The first Bee Swarm Necklace created by hand by Johnny Rocket in his original studio in Whitechapel, London. Every Bee and Wasp was modelled by Johnny -"just like making an Airfix model: except you have to make every component and every wing in metal."

image: Johnny Rocket Jewellery Classic Bee Swarm Necklace

design and made: Johnny Rocket


This piece was literally made in an afternoon. Scene Magazine rang Johnny for "something shiny and spectacular for the Main editorial"

He had nothing!

Looking swiftly through his off-cut silver drawer - he found two triangular pieces that seemed destined to be soldered together to form this armoured neck-piece. The shoot for Jo Phillips turned out so well they used it on the cover. Johnny's first of many magazine covers.

image: Johnny Rocket Jewellery - Swift Armor Neck-piece - Scene Magazine (First Cover UK Press) 

design and made: Johnny Rocket


This was one of Johnny Rocket's first consultation designs for Kylie. I went to her penthouse in West London because Julien Macdonald was in the middle of preparations for two runway shows. I was his go to accessory design consultant, the task fell to me. in collusion with Min we came up with the biggest blingest buckle we thought she could carry comfortably. The stage is all about light and we wanted this to flare cameras when the light hit it, just to be sure i covered the leather in hundreds of crystals. 
image: Gold and White Leather Belt for Kylie "On A Night Like This!" by Johnny Rocket Jewellery- La La La Book

design and made: Johnny Rocket

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