Makers Profile – Kate Jones



I’m excited for you all to get to know my friend Kate Jones today. Kate and I met a couple years ago when she was passing through Minneapolis. We got brunch and got to talking and I learned that her jewelry line, Ursa Major, was just a tiny peek into her artistic depth. I hope you get the same sense from our interview here today. I’m a big fan of Kate’s work; they’re heirloom pieces with heart and soul.

PS: If your looking for a truly special gift for your mother, wife, girlfriend, consider talking to Kate about a custom piece. 


Please tell us a little bit about yourself.


In a nutshell, I grew up all over but largely in the Caribbean on our sailboat, Ursa Major, and in Maine after that. I’m a pretty solid New England girl at heart. On a daily basis I’m a jeweler, on a long term basis, I’m someone interested in adding a sort of permanent beauty, not excess, to the world.  Working to make pieces to stand a lifetime, be worn everyday, be easy and special at the same time. These words get tossed around a lot lately….but they still ring true: it’s modern heirlooms I’m after.



Your work is closely tied to your personal experiences, specifically to the time you spent growing up in the Caribbean and Maine. Can you share a little bit about how these places are translated in your work through material and form?  


I probably knew from about the age of 10 that my business would be named after that boat.

That time on the Ursa Major was huge. We did most of the eastern Caribbean chain, sailed all the way from Antigua to Venezuela. I watched my parents ambition and determination bloom into this incredible journey. It’s kept me playful at heart, hard working, and never in doubt that, if you put your mind to something, take the time to map it out, you can make any dream come to fruition.

There’s a real purity to that kind of life. Sure, anyone who’s ever had a boat knows that a life with it is no simple task, but there is a beautiful simplicity to the feeling of it all. You hop on a boat, head off on the water, and everything is better, and clearer, and feels just a little bit more like “hey, it’s not all so complicated after all.”

And Maine? It’s magical. Grounded, down-to-earth, and focused on function. I love that about it. Its true magic lies in its art history…dense with Alex Katz, The Wyeth’s, Kenneth Noland, Robert Indiana, William Zorach, John Marin, I could go on….proof that it just has that kind of magnetic attraction.

All of the above? That’s at the heart of my work.



What are you working on at the moment?


Ha! (I laugh because it always feels like, what aren’t I working on?)

I’m always trying to get caught up.

Trying to work smarter, not harder.

Trying to buy a house on the coast of Maine.

And… putting together a bridal/engagement specific line, but it’s daunting. I don’t want it to be anything like what’s out there. And I myself am not a traditional-ring-minded-person. It’ll be focused on unique materials, classic lines, and art inspired. For the independent woman who prefers understated beauty


Can you share your process? Do you find that some concepts/projects translate across multiple mediums?


I always get asked if I sketch- and often I get asked to sketch…but truthfully, I hate it! I so much prefer getting my hands into it and either heading straight to the fabricating or wax carving and problem solving it that way. I’ve always been 3D focused. I was taught at RISD to let go of pre-conceptions, to embrace process, and as a perfectionist it took me a long time to grasp what that meant. But to me, it means leaving room in the process to let the piece organically shift/grow. Watch it, see what it wants to be. Some of the best pieces I’ve made have been happy accidents.  And jewelry can be so unpredictable sometimes. Often you don’t know if something will work until you actually set about doing it. In terms of concepts translating across mediums- I don’t have nearly as much time as I wish I did to work on that, but I do put the essence of that to work within each collection, by translating the concept of say a ring, to an earring, to a necklace, without being super literal.  And that, I love.



I really admire the timelessness of your pieces. In your mind, what makes a piece of jewelry worthy of  becoming an heirloom? Is it the design or the story behind the piece?


Ohhh, thank you! It’s many things for me: I think it’s the ability to take an acute idea and translate it into an obtuse form, the quality of the craftsmanship, and above all, restraint. You may want to reference an idea or a sentiment, but you don’t want to be literal. I think quite often that leads to something becoming novel. And the idea is that time moves, tastes shift, but from the original restraint comes timelessness.  



What’s the most challenging part about your line of work?


In a time of such heightened visibility, where we can see everyone’s behind-the-scenes, where going “viral” is considered a good thing, and people seem to blatantly copy each other without a second thought? Being original. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter, I like a good challenge.


What do you enjoy most about running your own business?


The problem solving, and the satisfaction of accomplishment.


Where do you find inspiration?


Art and architecture


What are you reading/listening to/watching right now?


Malcolm Gladwell’s, Outliers, Shintaro Sakamoto, How to Live With a Phantom, A Bigger Splash- and Ralph Fiennes dance scene over and over again.

–Images courtesy of KATE JONES

BY Kate Arends - January 27, 2017

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I love her reply about what she enjoys about running a business. Short and to the point. Problem solving is so satisfying.

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

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Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

Hi, I'm Kate. Welcome to my happy place.











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