Jen McKelvie - Architectural Designer

Architectural Designer/Globe Hopper


They say it’s harder to make friends as you get older, but in fact I’ve found the opposite to be true. Over the past few years I’ve developed some of the most special and meaningful new friendships. Without an ounce of the cliché or hyperbole usually heaped on such statements, I can say that those friendships have changed my life. They have also led me to other special humans, one of whom is Jen McKelvie.

As an artistic and intellectual spirit, her jewels are a map of where she has been and a foreshadow of where she is going. And on the eve of her departure from New York, her home for almost 7 years, she is about to go many places.

As a celebration and exploration of her next chapter, she’ll visit Tblisi, Bali and Perth, among others, in body, but the real journey will be the trips to the past, present and future that such a solo adventure inevitably precipitates.

While there are risks that come along with such time travel, there are also big rewards, and Jen relishes both. In the short time I've known her, I've seen her shift into a truly comfortable place of being, an authentic sense of self that is admirable and enviable. She has that type of calm, steady and confident energy that I know will be her compass along the way. It will no doubt lead her to many new discoveries, and hopefully a few more little gems.

While I am sad to be saying farewell to a new found friend, I have the strong sense that our paths have only just begun to cross. Jen was so generous and forthcoming in sharing the provenance of her pieces with me. Read on in her own words below and follow her journey @jennyjumpup and @call_ya_from_bali.

How would you describe your jewelry style?

minimal and intimate, every piece of jewelry i have has a personal story. i like to wear things with meaning, otherwise it just feels like decoration to me, which is just not my aesthetic. 

When you’re buying jewelry for yourself, what draws you to a piece of jewelry?

i don’t buy often, but when i do, i just feel pulled to a piece, i tend to wear small pieces and the pieces i change out are mostly rings and earrings.


What significance does jewelry play in your life?

i grew up not understanding my personal style so for a long time i didn't wear any jewelry or i wore funky earrings that my mother would give me (she has a fantastic out there style, that works brilliantly on her, but not at all on me). i was (am) a bit of a tomboy and i grew up riding horses and working at the barn all day, so i tended to not wear anything (or anything i liked) until the end of college.


What is the most special piece of jewelry in your collection and what's the story behind it?

my most favorite / special piece was a jade bracelet that i wore from 2006 until 2017. i got it on my first trip to China and it was such a part of me. i loved how it mirrored my body temperature and how it patina-ed over the years. it broke last year and i think a piece of my heart broke with it, haha. but it seriously felt like a new chapter in my life when it shattered into 3 pieces. they say when your jade bracelet breaks it has taken a hit for you!  i still have all 3 pieces, 1 in my wallet, 1 on my alter and 1 in my jewelry dish. 


What is your favorite jewelry memory?

i think when i first stacked one ring on top of another, this was way back in 2006 or 2007. it felt so right and refreshing. i was thrilled that i could wear multiple meaningful rings at the same time. i have a stack of 7 (was 8, but one broke) on my right ring finger. i feel like there is a lot of energy in those rings, they have not come off that finger for over 10 years and they are really significant to me, i think my finger is a little 'deformed' from them!

bracelet: in god we trust | thin bands: bird | remaining collection: argentinian market in patagonia, a ring my mother made, a ring i made (3 of) and my mom and sister both wear one

bracelet: in god we trust | thin bands: bird | remaining collection: argentinian market in patagonia, a ring my mother made, a ring i made (3 of) and my mom and sister both wear one

Do you have a piece that you wear every day and what is the story behind it?

i have so many pieces that i wear everyday! i wear the 7 rings on my right ring finger, 1 ring on each pinky finger and in my ears i always have earrings with either amethyst, ruby or turquoise in my second holes and i have 2 upper ear piercings that still have the studs they put in when they pierce you, but i had them put them in backward so they are flat pieces of metal. i have also recently found a solid brass bracelet that i've been wearing daily, it feels a lot like my jade piece in a way.

heart earring: awoke vintage

heart earring: awoke vintage


What, if anything, have you learned about life/love/family/self/relationships through jewelry?

one of the rings in my stack is a diamond ring from an ex. it was meant as an engagement-ish thing, but i could never bring myself to wear in on my left hand. we had a long, tumultuous relationship during our early adult lives that was really trans-formative for me. he was abusive and we were so young, but thought we were so grown, and there was just so much for our young hearts and minds to comprehend! i took the ring off for many, many years but when i finally processed and healed and most importantly forgave him and myself, i put the ring back on and i love that i kept it thru all those years. i now carry a physical reminder of my strength and perseverance and power to heal right on my finger! the heart line runs down our arms and ends in our fingers, so i feel that it is a powerful expression of openheartedness and love for myself wearing this ring. 

What super powers does jewelry give you?

what a fun question! i think the pieces i wear all the time are just a part of me, a beautiful connection to my past and all the massive lessons i have learned, all the places i have traveled, all the lovers and friends who have left their mark and helped me become the person i am. so i'm not sure abt super powers, but i definitely feel powerful, and maybe the rocks and metal on my body have something to do with that!