Meet Kelty Pelechytik - a Canadian Jewelry Designer who effortlessly embodies the term trendsetter just by being herself. She's the artist behind the portait cut diamonds rings we can't keep in stock and that Scalloped Gold Statement Band that's turned so many heads.
Keep reading to learn the magic of antique diamonds, how she learned to make her own design tools from scratch, and the day she sold her house to buy diamonds and gold (a woman after our own heart).
What's your first memory of loving jewelry?
My mom had a giant jewelry box and I went through it constantly as a kid. When I was about 8, I became obsessed with beading necklaces, and that evolved into fimo necklaces (you make them out of clay, fire them up in the oven and you can paint on them). My mom would actually wear my Christmas tree fimos in red, white, and gold. It's the present everyone got – my friends, my family, literally everyone.
My mom is from Scotland and she has lots of treasures from her childhood - she would show me her pieces and tell me the story of each one: where it came from and what they meant to her.
I think all kids like jewelry - all kids except my daughter! This kid has such a good collection curated by me that now she's immune to it.
How did you become a Jewelry Designer?
I needed to find something I could do with my hands. I was thinking of becoming an upholsterer – finding old objects and furniture to rework and resell. I also knew I needed to work for myself because I’m a horrible employee. One day I met a girl who was a jeweler and right away I knew jewelry was the answer.
Since jewelry is such a capital-heavy business, I needed to make sure it was truly what I wanted to do before I jumped in. I found a mentor named Bill who taught me everything I know. Bill was a retired schoolteacher and hobbyist – he did everything himself: from enamel to stone setting to making his own casting machine and all his tools from scratch. We lived in the mountains so he even panned his own gold. I called him and asked to shadow him; he said yes, absolutely and invited me to his shop. The opportunity to learn from him was extraordinary – he even taught me how to make my own tools (which I still do today). Being an ex-teacher, he really knew how to teach and inspire people. He was extremely generous – helping anyone who asked. He was the real catalyst for my jewelry career.
At that time, I owned a small house outright, so once I got my bearings and skills from Bill, I sold my house and spent a couple hundred thousand dollars in a week and a half on gold and diamonds! I thought that money would last me a few months to a couple of years, but ten days later, it was completely gone. I just went for it completely.
More is more, true or false.
I could write a thesis about this – I’ll just say both can be true!
I can't think of portrait cut diamonds without thinking of you. What do you love about them and what are they for those that don’t know?
Portrait cuts are thin, flat diamonds – there’s some faceting around the perimeter but they have a see-through, glass-like appearance.
When I first started looking for portrait cut diamonds, I was on a waitlist for 10 months because they were so hard to find. Then, suddenly they started gaining popularity.
I love them because they look like an extremely modest piece of jewelry yet it’s a very luxurious stone – the best kind of contradiction. It’s a hidden luxury; only you know what they are.
The possibilities with portrait cut diamonds are endless, there’s so many things I want to do with them.
You are the antique diamond queen – tell us why you love them.
I love antique diamonds because they’re hand-cut, hand-faceted, and no two are alike. I find them very romantic and masterful. There’s so much depth and interest – you can look at that stone for years and still be fascinated by its cut. It’s not “perfect” but it’s also not imperfect; it’s a marvel, an enigma, this little mountain of hand-cut diamond.
They have so much personality - you cannot replicate the sense of romanticism they naturally have because they were cut by a human being instead of a machine. And I always think about who wore them before – I wish jewelry came with full provenance to see its history.
I also love that they’re more sustainable – we’re reusing stones and not taking any new material from the earth.
When I was searching for what I wanted to do with my life, I was making videos of lost arts (book binding, chess, an antique frame gallery in London). I didn’t know where it would lead me but I am extremely fascinated by things that are made by hand and not machines – lost arts. Antique diamonds are reminiscent of that time and that interest of mine. Old diamonds encompass everything I’m passionate about.
What’s your design process like for a GB ring?
- I’m drawn to a stone that invokes something in me. I sit with it and very impulsively put it together. It’s a timing thing; every single piece could have 15 different outcomes – it’s just based on how I’m feeling in that moment.
- I don’t sketch, I just start carving in wax. I’ve recently started using CAD only for custom clients that want to see what it’s look like before it’s made.
- I cast something every day. Everything is done in-house.
- I set the stones myself unless I get super stuck with a difficult design.
I’m extremely lucky to have a great support network – I share a space with two guys with over 50 years of experience that help me out.
What's your favorite ring you’ve designed for Gem Breakfast?
Florencia that I made for the Moyo Pop-Up – the stone is incredible and the ring has so much meaning behind it. The energy in that pop-up was very powerful – all the designers plus Cat and Ashkan were cheerleading for each other. It was such a warm, welcoming space – I can’t wait to see where those rings end up because they’re truly extraordinary.
What pieces do you wear every day?
All the jewelry I wear is very personal - it all has a story, comes from a meaningful moment, or the people around me that I love. I just had an enamel ring of my dog made and I think I’ll wear that every day. I wear a fede ring (a ring where two hands clasp) every day, and a lot of antique pieces.
I also wear a ruby necklace every day. When my husband gave me an engagement ring, I exchanged it for that ruby necklace. It's ironic - I'm married, yet I'm not the marrying kind. I design engagement rings and wedding bands yet I don't wear one myself. My husband and I met abroad so we did get married but I never dreamt of a wedding – my daughter planned our wedding – we had hot dogs and all her friends came. As outgoing as I am, I hate being the spotlight and walking down an aisle with my makeup and hair done would make me very uncomfortable.
What are you inspired by to create your designs?
My inspiration comes from the stones themselves but also from the people I work with; I love collaborating. One of those people is Robyn, the portrait artist I work with - we place high-quality portrait cut diamonds over her tiny custom paintings. It looks like a painting behind glass.
We’re on this journey together figuring out how to make these one of a kind pieces. I love learning each other’s craft and now we’re really good friends. Collaborating with other people allows me to grow.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Wearable pieces of art. As unique and interesting as my designs are though, I want them to be timeless - something you haven’t seen before, but subtly. I love a design that’s a little bit modest and understated even if it’s a 3 or 4 carat stone.
It's important to me that my pieces can be worn as daily pieces in a functional life. My worst nightmare is for a piece to come back that hasn’t lasted. When a piece leaves me, I expect people will be fairly rough on it. As much as you should be careful with fine jewelry, they’re made to be worn and to last. I picture these pieces outlasting us and being passed on to our children.