Monika Kalytyte - Artist, Designer, Wanderer
I had the honor of meeting Monika Kalytyte while I was visiting London this past summer. She is an inimitable presence at the Shoreditch boutique Modern Society (more on the amazing boutique here). She has a beautiful style that’s relaxed and minimal, but at the same time, it would be hard to miss her in a crowd.
She also has the most intriguing and artful collection of tattoos that grace her arms like a canvas. While she’s based in London, the ink has been collected over the years on numerous trips back to her native Lithuania.
Having told me the evolving story of a bracelet that was given to her by an ex (read more below) while she helped me find me own special piece from Alighieri, I knew I had to hear more of her jewelry stories. And just as I suspected, we share the same sentiments that our jewelry is like a map of all of the places we’ve been and the special people we’ve known. I fell in love with her romantic notion that “jewelry is a silent language.”
She so generously shared the stories of her most precious pieces with me. See below in her own words and photographs.
How would you describe your jewelry style?
My jewelry style is pretty minimal, however it has some chaos going on as well. I try not to feel repressed by things which are on me, over years I removed many of my piercings and do not wear necklaces anymore. I do love silver rings, small bracelets, few earrings, also still keeping my medusa piercing. My style is slightly quirky, but comfortable and easy, I do like when things work together - life style, clothing, accessories. I believe that things have to be connected - memories, experiences, places, books, music and etc, It all influences the things I like and what I project back, it's my essence and choices.
When you’re buying jewelry for yourself, what draws you to a piece of jewelry?
I like to look for things where I don't live, because then my eyes are different, more absorbing and open. I choose intuitively or pieces choose me. Also, some precious gifts find the right spots on me. I take it naturally; consciously looking for particular things in my life usually never leads me to right ones :)
“Jewellery is a silent language among us and it is definitely a super power for me, as I am talking without words.”
What significance does jewelry play in your life?
Jewellery is an important part of me since I was kid, I always had a feeling that it protects me. My mom's work involves piercing, so all of mine and my closest friends’ piercings were done by her, I found it very special and unusual. We are connected together with some jewellery. My sweet Grandma gave me her amber bracelet, which she got from Grandpa when they went on their first holiday to the sea side, like 50 years ago. I do not wear it, but I treasure it and found it extremely beautiful, I would like to pass it to my children one day.
What is your absolute favorite/most special piece of jewelry and what's the story behind it?
I have a few of them :) So very special gift was the pagan symbol of sun pendant that was given to me by my dad. I stopped wearing it and never put any neck pieces again after he passed away, but now some time after I am thinking to transfer it as tattoo on my chest, because I would like it to be always on me just in a different format. I’ve found tattoos sometimes takes jewellery’s place for me, somedays instead of looking for a new ring or bracelet - I fly home and do a new tattoo.
What is your favorite/most treasured jewelry memory?
I think my most favourite and special jewellery memory is my first piercing by my mom when I was age 14 - she pierced my eyebrow. She was not happy doing this and very nervous, but she had to, as she knew I will go and do it elsewhere :) Also another very special one - my very good friend, who is a theatre actor, gave me small customised silver ring (has same symbol as one of my tattoos) during his performance. He acted out the giving me the ring moment while I was sitting and watching performance in the first row, no one from the audience understood what happened, as performance was quite interactive - I found it very beautiful, I am still wearing that ring everyday.
Do you have a piece that you wear every day and if so, what is the story behind it?
I wear most of my jewellery everyday, without taking it off. An interesting memory is from one of my favourite silver bracelets, which I got from my ex-partner. He gave it to me on my 22nd birthday, I really did not like it, the style and everything felt not right for me, but 5 years after - I love this bracelet and wear it everyday, probably it just needed some time to get to me and me - "grow" for it.
“With people who give us jewellery or we give to them - I think it attaches feelings, memories, brings past to present, when people are no longer with or around us, there is still secret proof and sign of their presence forever. “
What have you learned about life/love/family/self/relationships through jewelry?
I think jewellery is a very strong connection, protection, bond. With people who give us jewellery or we give to them - I think it attaches feelings, memories, brings past to present, when people are no longer with or around us, there is still secret proof and sign of their presence forever. With places where we got jewellery from - it's like a photograph, a moment to experience every time we have that piece from one or another place. It is a treasure, which has weight and meaning not only by physical appearance or style.
What super powers does jewelry give you?
It is my protection, my self-confidence, my joy and scars. I feel better, open and connected when I have precious pieces on me. Jewellery is a silent language among us and it is definitely a super power for me, as I am talking without words.
Where are your favorite places to shop for jewelry?
I do like car boot sales, markets, independent designer's stores, London, Berlin, Asia, workshops of artists who do bespoke jewellery.
Who should I interview next?
I suggest Takayoshi Yamanami who is a designer of Detaj jewellery. I find him to be a very interesting and special jewellery maker.