If you were to scroll through Kelty Pelechytik’s Instagram, you would come across some interesting jewellery pieces made from stones so transparent, you’d swear they were glass. Then an eye staring back at you would stop you in your tracks. The first sits inside a square portrait diamond gold ring. The blue iris gazes up adoringly, framed only by the ring and the shadows of an eye-brow. It’s a twist on a traditional lover’s eye piece, made with portrait diamonds.
The diamond is cut like a sheet of glass. It’s an elegant, understated cut that is rare to find. Pelechytik is attracted to vintage styles and the history behind stones, so, naturally, she loves portrait diamonds.
“Right now, because I’m using so many portrait diamonds, they need to be clear and they need to be as white as possible,” she says. No inclusions mean the images behind the stones show up more easily. Her style is reminiscent of aristocratic England, where the pieces are designed around the stones, with classic, intricate designs. Lover’s eye pieces were favourites in the Georgian era; many would paint their lovers’ eyes on ivory for them to be encased in rings, necklaces or pins.
The craftswoman’s goal is to create jewellery that can be passed down as modern-day heirlooms. “To create something that somebody is going to have, hopefully for the rest of their lives and can be passed on for generations, is a huge responsibility, one I don’t take lightly,” she says. To help with that, Pelechytik has slightly modernized her jewellery by using enamel. But, for her, the pieces still needed to be improved. So, she thought of a way to make them waterproof.
“We’re learning how to make them [the paintings] in enamel,” says Australian artist Robyn Rich. Rich paints the lover’s eyes in enamel for Pelechytik — the two connected through Instagram. When Rich began working with Pelechytik, it wasn’t the first time she had painted eyes. But it was the first time her canvas was only six by eight millimetres.
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The enamel has to be fused on to metal (the two artists use thin sheets of gold and silver), and every layer of paint has to be baked in a kiln. The baking is what gives it a beautiful fused glass finish. Rich tried this technique on a new lover’s eye piece — it took eight hours to create and has 19 layers of paint (19 firings, as well).
“For me this has opened up a whole lot of knowledge about having to look into the old processes and how they work,” Rich says.
Pelechytik, who learned her craft in New York, is fairly new in the jewellery world, having started her namesake brand in 2019. Her biggest source of inspiration, she says, are the stones with which she works — although parting with them afterwards is a little painful. Her work with portrait diamonds fills a void the industry had forgotten it had. As far as Ashkan Asgari — owner of Misfit Diamonds, and the one who sources diamonds for Pelechytik to use — is concerned, Pelechytik is the only one in the industry making jewellery the way she is. “She’s like a breath of fresh air,” he says, adding that there is a possibility her work with portrait diamonds could be mimicked in the coming years.
LHR – YUL – JFK – YEG
A nomad in the most basic sense of the word, Pelechytik spent her early adult life split between New York and London — the former was her favourite. She moved to Montreal to study fashion, but spent her weekends in New York, until she was living there full time.
“I would be able to wiggle my way into wherever, whatever industry I was kind of interested in, which was always art,” she says.
Her sponge-like nature led her to seek interesting jobs, most of the time for free until she was hired full time. While in Montreal, Pelechytik worked for a woodworking company. She also worked for an antique frame gallerist in London, and in art galleries in New York.
“To me, New York felt like Edmonton. I know that sounds weird,” she says. She saw that both the cities are fashion forward, “Everyone’s doing something really ingenious.”
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This article appears in the June 2021 issue of Edify