vicariosity | Custom made Jewelry | Europe Inspired Collection Jada Jo


What is Vicariosity?  It the blend of vicarious and curiosity.  The inspiration behind travel, one is curios to experience and explore a new place.  The curiosity is to see, feel, and experience the unknown.

Travel is the inspiration and passion behind Jada Jo.  Come join the travel community and journey of Jada Jo.

World Trip: A Welcome Whirlwind

My boundless sense of curiosity and endless wanderlust means that I don’t often stay in the same place for long, and when I hear the world calling, I have to pick up! That was the case back in 2016. I’d been working tirelessly at a job I was incredibly passionate about when I turned around and realized that I felt static, my body was begging to move, my creativity was in need of nourishment and my soul was desperate for new experiences. So, I followed that voice in my head and decided to take a 3-month sabbatical and cross some things off my—very extensive—bucket list.

In my planning, I knew that every destination had to have a specific purpose, something that would ignite my passions, enhance my abilities and delight my senses. After a much-needed visit to some good friends in Israel to celebrate Passover, I was off! 14 countries in 3 months. When I look back, the amount of life-changing experiences I was able to pack into a relatively short amount of time is almost unfathomable, and many of them I hope to write about in much greater detail later, but here’s are the Cliff’s Notes:

I watched the Northern Lights in Iceland, took in street art in England, sampled every dish imaginable in Portugal, made pasta in Tuscany, sky-dived in Mauritius, saw elephants in Sri Lanka and visited orangutans in Borneo. I also made sure to visit some of the world’s most beautiful monuments of human achievement, like Christ the Redeemer in Brazil and the Blue Mosque in Turkey. I don’t say this to (humble) brag about the exceptional places I’ve been lucky enough to visit, but to convey that it’s the places we go, the people we meet and the things we experience that make us truly who we are. Without this trip, who knows if I’d ever have followed my dream of crafting jewelry? But after seeing what the world has to offer—and realizing how much of it was still out there to see—I knew that I had to do what I felt in my soul.

For me, change is a constant, creativity is a calling and travel is a necessity. The memories I’ve made and moments I’ve shared with people across the globe are the fuel that goes into every every single piece I make. They are infused with raw beauty, cultural meaning and personal significance. Beyond that, they are informed by my knowledge that—however many miles you fly, however many borders you cross and however many roads you travel—humanity is universal. We are all connected, whether it’s culturally or cosmically, and my simple hope is to further that connection by telling stories through the pieces I create and share with the world.

Here’s to your next adventure, wherever it may be!

Uganda: An Unexpected Awakening

With the unmatched beauty of its landscapes, unprecedented diversity of inhabitants and unimaginable vastness in scale, Africa will always be—by far—my favorite continent. While these are just a few reasons why I’m completely enamored by this part of the world, the opportunity to grow, help and learn from its people is what keeps Africa in my heart, mind and soul to this day.

While most visitors venture straight to the hotspots of Kenya or South Africa, I’ve been lucky enough to travel off the beaten path, away from the tourist traps and beaches, to an Africa that most people don’t get to experience. An Africa that I fell in love with. On a recent philanthropic trip to Uganda—to bring much-needed goods to a displaced Pygmy tribe, orphanage and school—I was able to immerse myself in a culture that has had a profound impact on both my way of life and the way I see the world.

The Pygmy people are believed to be descendants of Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers of the African rainforest, and many have carried on the ways and practices of their forbearers into the modern age. Living primarily off the naturally occurring products in their environment, they are extremely reliant on the land as a source of food, clothing, shelter and goods to trade with. The group I visited were displaced when their land—now part of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park—became a protected habitat for endangered mountain gorillas. As they adjusted to this new environment, they struggled to find the wild resources that had been more abundant in their former home.

Their adaptability and resilience in the face of this overwhelming adversity inspired me, as did their creativity in being able to build their daily lives through whatever crossed their path. And while this trip was not directly related to my jewelry craft, these sensibilities resonated with me deeply and have become somewhat of a daily ritual: to remind myself to innovate with—sometimes unexpected—materials, practice gratitude, honor nature and continue to forge ahead. This experience also strengthened my resolve to make my business a platform for giving back to the individuals who make this world such an awe-inspiring place to live.

This won’t be my last trip to Africa, there is simply too much to explore, to experience and to enjoy for me to stay away for long.

The Cotswolds: A Trip Back in Time

Speckled with golden-hued villages, rolling hills and picturesque forests, The Cotswolds is England’s largest designated area of natural beauty. The area is steeped in fascinating history dating back to the Neolithic era and has inspired artists, composers and playwrights for centuries. As much as I love the frenetic creative energy of London, my visit came just at the perfect time for some much-needed rest, repose and reflection.

During my drive through the tranquil countryside, I had a moment of realization that, throughout my extensive travels, I rarely had what you’d call a “vacation.” Many of my trips were work-related and even if they weren’t, I spent my time flitting from place to place looking for inspiration, soaking in the culture, meeting people and not wanting to miss out on anything! I decided that The Cotswolds would be the perfect place to slow the pace a little and to immerse myself in the rich legacy of the region.

I was fortunate enough to stay at Thornbury Castle, a former fortress and Tudor country house dating back to 1511. Stepping inside, I wondered what these ornately-decorated walls had seen over the decades. I truly believe that a place retains some energy of the past and Thornbury is somewhere that it could be felt in my core.

Established as a home for Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, the castle occupied many pivotal figures in English history, including Jasper Tudor, and even King Henry III and his ill-fated wife Anne Boleyn. Halls were lined with tapestries, suits of armor and relics of years gone by. The extensive grounds, filled with finely trimmed hedges, manicured lawns and blooming floral beds felt completely closed off from the rest of the world.

As part of my stay, the castle hosted evening events where guests dressed in the traditional attire of the time period and enjoyed era-specific food, drinks and activities. During these moments, it was easy to forget that the modern world existed just outside the castle’s doors. They also reminded me how special it is that a place or object can house the memories of its history like a mini time capsule, furthering my obsession with sourcing authentic materials to use in my designs.

Sometimes, taking a moment to free yourself from the constraints of everyday life, clear your mind and be fully present—even if your present is the past—can spark revelations, both personal and professional. When I feel the need for this beautiful repose, I’ll be going back in time once again to The Cotswolds.

Japan: Lost in Time

A divine mix of tradition and technology, where a bullet train can deliver you to the doorstep of a Buddhist temple, Japan had been on my wanderlust wish list for quite some time. While my time there was short, Japan dizzied me, dazzled me and left me wanting more!

Catching the spring cherry blossoms in full bloom, Kyoto stood out above-and-beyond as somewhere I know I must revisit. The rural hills and trees carpeted in blushing pink, I wandered amongst Geisha houses, ornate shrines and bamboo-clad tea outposts. The area’s history, quite literally, etched in stone in its perfectly preserved monuments and flourishing in its lush botanical gardens.

Kyoto is also the birthplace of many celebrated Japanese art forms, from imposing Samurai-inspired palaces to tranquil ryokan lodgings and home to ancient pottery crafts and traditional knife-making. Every glance filled my mind with questions, ideas and inspiration. This is somewhere I could spend years and still discover something new every day.

Formerly the Imperial Capital of Japan for over 1,000 years, the city still lives and breathes history but also boasts a bustling metropolis of business and trade at its center. This contrast between the past, present and future fascinated me and reminded me that no matter how advanced our society becomes, we as individuals will always look to where we’ve been to understand where we are and where we should go. This was the case when I practiced a Buddhist meditation, the spiritual tools of the past centering me in the present and preparing me for the future.

In my work, the past has always been my fuel [link to About page]; uncovering the lost stories of materials, modes of craftsmanship and cultural meaning is what, quite simply, drives me to create.

After my visit to Kyoto, I reflected on how the present and future can also inform my creative passion. Every piece can tell a story about the past but can only exist in the present, perhaps reminding its wearer to live fully in the moment. Likewise, remaining conscious of the future can guide me towards more advanced, innovative methods of creation, pushing the boundaries and infusing Kyoto’s wonderful time-warping effect into my life, my designs and the lives of others.

Bali: Paradise for the Senses

When I think of Bali, my consciousness is immediately awash with color. It’s an island flanked by vivid coral reefs and fringed by white-sand beaches, where lush green rice terraces contrast against rugged volcanic gradients, forever bathed in sunlight from an azure-blue sky. Likewise, this immensely vibrant Indonesian island has fostered the development of one of the warmest, most colorful cultures on earth.

What immediately inspired me about Bali was not only the striking color and rich culture—a stunning mixture of Indian, Chinese and Hindu elements that can be seen (and touched, smelled and tasted) everywhere—but the visual depth and richness to everything around me. Greenery seemed to vibrate with energy, the sea awash with tranquility and the air thick with anticipation. In addition to the island’s natural wonders, I experienced the same with Bali’s man-made treasures. Hindu stone carvings spoke to their intricate creation, temples resonated with long-forgotten chants and ornate silverwork sparkled with sacred meaning.

In my mind, this has a lot to do with the spiritual intention behind the creation of these items. Everything in Bali, whether decorative or structural, whether grounded in necessity or spirituality, has a strong meaning behind it. Just as one example, the nine directional temples on the island were specifically designed—down to the most minor detail—to protect the island and its inhabitants from evil forces. This intent is something that can truly be felt, and likewise, is a vital part of my approach to life and philosophy of design.

For me, Bali is also about people—from the immensely talented artisans to dedicated surfers—who put all their time, energy and conviction into what they love and believe in. This mentality is so ingrained in Bali that it’s hard not to pick up some of that passion and bring it home with you. I last visited Bali in 1998 and I feel it calling my name again, to saturate my mind with color, renew and reinvigorate my creative energies, and as a place to hone more techniques and collaborate with local creators.

India: A Cosmic Connection

The vastness of India is sometimes too large for my mind to comprehend. The fact that the chaotic frenzy of Delhi, the spiritual stillness of the Himalayas and the pure vibrancy of Rajasthan all are in the same country is incredible to me. I’ve only visited India once before, in 2012, but remember being awe-struck by the variety of beautiful materials, handmade goods and rare treasures that I could use for inspiration and bring back to incorporate into future designs.

The history of jewelry in India is as vast and complex as the country itself. More than just an adornment, Indian jewelry has long acted as an insurance policy, protective talisman, signifier of status and a tool of communication.

Starting in the 16th Century, the Mughals brought advanced knowledge of gem-setting with them from Central Asia to India. Precious metals and gems quickly became their way of displaying wealth, cementing power and retaining their divine status. So much so that they even passed laws preventing anyone but the highest classes from wearing jewelry. Many Mughals would also adorn themselves with miniaturized deities, signifying their special connection with the gods and imbuing the pieces with deep cosmic meaning. The link between jewelry and spirituality is one that has remained strong in India, and an area of my craft that captivates me.

Throughout the ages, Indian aesthetics—including jewelry—began to absorb influences from Colonial powers and other cultures to create the ornate and distinctive style that is still seen to this day. I find this intermingling of ideas fascinating and it’s an area I strive to explore further in my own work, too.

The traditions and techniques of jewelry making are handed down carefully in India, generation by generation. In fact, jewelry makers are even assigned their own caste—Vishwakarma—a term derived from “divine architect” in Hindu mythology. My hope is that I’ll be able to return to India very soon to bask in the vastness of this beautiful country and the vastness of knowledge—both spiritual and technical—that it holds.

Bhutan: My Treasured Place

Throughout all my travels—and there have been a lot of them—people always ask me what my favorite country is, and I answer without hesitation: Bhutan. My reasons for this response are many, but in essence, it feels like my spiritual home. A place where I feel fully grounded, at peace and at my most creative.

Nestled in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, Bhutan is a notoriously secretive and spiritual country that ranks highly in economic freedom, ease of business and peacefulness. They even pioneered the concept of gross national happiness to measure the collective well-being of the population. All of this plays into the immense sense of calm you feel the second you arrive there, secure in the knowledge that you and your location are somehow working together in harmony.

With its national identity immersed in Buddhism—and due to its relative isolation from the rest of the world—Bhutan has managed to keep its culture intact and relatively unaffected by outside forces. Religion is infused into every element of the country’s culture and traditions. From national dress to architecture and, of course, jewelry.

Bhutanese jewelry is rich in bronze (Lugzo is the traditional name assigned to bronzework) and often takes the form of heavy bracelets, loop earrings and clothing adornments set with turquoisecoral and the zhi stone—said to have special protective powers. During my visit, I was inspired to create my Tiger’s Nest Necklace for the cliffside monastery that has become an icon of Bhutanese beauty, culture and spirituality. Whenever I think of that bracelet, I dream of returning to my favorite place, the place that feels like nowhere else on earth.

Tanzania: My Personal Mountain

Looming high over the border between the African countries of Tanzania and Kenya, Mount Kilimanjaro has always occupied a very special place in my mind. An icon of my favorite continent, Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and is abundant with myth and legend concerning its history, discovery and the climbers who have endeavored to reach its peak. More so, it has always been a deeply personal goal of mine to climb the mountain, discover its storied legacy and experience its sheer majesty for myself.

The climb itself, up the mountain’s sloping volcanic face, proved to be less of a physical challenge and more of an exercise in mental fortitude. As I trekked and trekked, my movements themselves became almost a meditative practice. The stresses and strains of everyday life slowly faded from consciousness, with the task of simply putting one foot in front of the other becoming my only preoccupation. This unmatched sense of clarity allowed me to be wholly and truly in the moment, as a I focused solely on my body, the earth beneath me and the perseverance to just keep going!

I realized what a welcome lesson this was, one that was to be applied to every aspect of my life. Despite whatever obstacles may present themselves, whatever hurdles may fall in your path, the mere act of concentrating at the task at hand, adapting to your environment and persisting against the odds will always get you closer to your personal peak. And, I speak from experience here, when you finally reach that personal peak, the pride in your accomplishment will be even sweeter.

Having conquered my personal mountain, the remainder of my time in Tanzania was spent on safari. Gazing out across vast Serengeti plains, scattered with white-bearded wildebeest, leaping gazelle and herds of zebra is a moment that I will treasure for the rest of my life. My trip was perfectly timed to witness the large-scale annual migration, and I couldn’t help but connect the journeys of these animals to the personal journey that I had experienced just days before: the practice of perseverance, focus and fortitude ultimately delivering them to their desired destination.

Every trip we take, whether near or far, is as much a mental and spiritual exercise as it is a physical one. New experiences can spark revelations, personal insights and heightened awareness about ourselves, others and the world we call home. These are the stories that I strive to tell, not only here, but through the pieces I craft. Every piece has significance, every piece has a journey and every piece has its own rich story to tell. One that will hopefully continue on, infused by the unique experiences of its future wearers.

Seychelle Islands: Nature's Work of Art

An almost cosmically aligned constellation of 115 islands off the East African coast, the Seychelles is, quite simply, paradise. Sapphire blue waters, white sand beaches and lush vegetation welcome you in with a warm air of peace and serenity; a hideaway where you can be with your thoughts and soak in the transformative energy of your surroundings.

Despite being a relatively short trip from Tanzania, the Seychelles was truly a world of its own. Flying in, I almost felt like I was entering an unseen protective bubble. Uninhabited throughout most of recorded history and once thought to be The Garden of Eden, the islands retain a calming sense of isolation and independence that I’ve rarely experienced anywhere else on my travels.

Basking in an endless summer, indigenous wildlife also thrives in this environment, the air quietly humming with the activity of sea birds, giant tortoises and marine life. Likewise, the people of the Seychelles are blessed with the kind of relaxed energy and hospitable nature that makes you feel instantly at home. European, African, and Asian influences can be seen and heard everywhere, enhancing the aura that everyone is welcome here.

Sinking my toes into the sand of Anse Source D’Argent—the most beautiful beach I have ever set my eyes upon—the ocean breeze filling my senses and the sun’s rays filling me with warmth, I knew that in this moment I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Brushing by spice plants on the island’s innumerable wild hiking trails, I was rewarded with scents of cinnamon, ylang-ylang and lemon grass. This is a was place where getting lost is a valid pastime, and in getting lost, you might just find yourself.

Beyond the natural artistry of its surroundings, fine art plays a major role in Seychellois society and culture. As I explored, I encountered numerous small studios, hidden in the landscape and embedded in the jungle, where creators of all types celebrate their craft. Much of their work—whether watercolor or pastel, etching or silk-printing—was inspired by the landscape of their environment with vibrant colors and soft strokes echoing the paradise that exists just on their doorstep.

My time in the Seychelles was akin to a creative nirvana. My mind calmed, my body warmed and my soul nourished by the place and its people. Every color, scent and shape filed away into my consciousness as fuel for future work. I felt physically relaxed and spiritually reinvigorated in the knowledge that I was in the right place and on the right path. And that’s the true magic of the Seychelles.

Galapagos Islands: The Animal Kingdom

With a rich legacy as Charles Darwin’s evolutionary study ground, the Galapagos Islands are one of nature’s true marvels. Surrounded by crystal clear waters, brimming with vibrant reefs and abundant marine life, the islands themselves feel almost untouched by human footprints.

I originally ventured to the islands in search of the stunning Blue Footed Booby, but ended up experiencing a world of flora and fauna that went beyond my wildest dreams. Covered in rich rainforest, tranquil beaches and volcanic ascents, the environment itself felt alive, brimming with natural energy that was at once exhilarating and immensely calming. Stepping into this new domain, the 150-year-old tortoises, majestic cormorants and miniature penguins I encountered barely flinched at my presence. This was truly their world and I was thrilled to be a welcome visitor.

Beneath the pristine surface of the Pacific Ocean, a whole new wonderland unfolded before my eyes. I dove and snorkeled amongst Galapagos sharks, seals and a myriad of fluorescent fish. It was here that, despite having traveled far and wide, I truly realized just how many different “worlds” our planet contains, and the beautiful miracle that, somehow, these disparate realms can coexist and work together in harmony.

Likewise, each individual island—from Baltra to Bartolomé, Ferdinanda to Floreana—had its own distinctive personality, largely dictated by the wildlife that called it home. Just I have always ingrained in my psyche to remain respectful and deferential towards the different people, cultures and religions that I encounter on my travels, I became aware that the same is true of the plants and animals. I was merely a transient in their world and the pure artistry that I witnessed was to be preserved, protected and respected.

In working with natural materials, this mentality has become somewhat of a touchstone, guiding me to ensure that everything I use does not disrupt the organic processes from its origin. Beyond that, I strive to allow the raw beauty of these materials to be amplified in my final creations, whether that means leaving them in an untouched state or allowing an expressive contrast with carefully selected gemstonesprecious metals and cultural iconography to emerge.

In this way, I hope to share these unseen worlds that I feel so blessed to have experienced, to share their stories and to, hopefully, encourage others to see our planet as the truly awe-inspiring utopia that it is.

Fez: My Second Home

It’s no secret that I have a strong affinity for the beauty and diversity of the African continent, Morocco in particular. The roots of this connection can be traced back to my upbringing, growing up in a home dotted with ornate Moroccan rugs, adorned with Moorish designs and often smelling of Middle Eastern spices! Prior to being lucky enough to visit Morocco for myself, I felt a deep connection to that part of the world, having been surrounded by the region’s textiles, artwork, jewelry and cuisine during such formative years.

These early memories were coupled with a deep yearning to experience Morocco first hand, to take in its wealth of cultural and spiritual inspiration, to let it take over my senses with its visual gems, exotic sounds, rich textures and alluring scents. My desire came to fruition first when I was a teenager and again as an adult when I returned to source materials, scour antiques and soak up inspiration for my business. While most people immediately think of the liveliness and glamour of Marrakech or the serene Kasbahs of the Atlas Mountains, the city that truly defines Morocco for me is Fez.

Situated at the crossroads of the preeminent cities within the region—Tangier to the northwest, Casablanca and Rabat to the west and Marrakesh to the southwest—Fez has been called the cultural capital of Morocco, infused with important elements of each of these surrounding cities. Truly three distinct cities in one, Fez encapsulates Fes el Bali (the ancient walled city), Fes-Jdid (the Jewish quarter), and the Ville Nouvelle (Fez’s newest, French area). Wandering through these areas is truly intoxicating and I found myself wanting to soak in every sight and store it away for future use.

Within the ancient city is the Medina, the world’s largest market and also the world’s largest urban car-free area. A Medieval labyrinth of narrow streets, lanes, and alleys, the Medina is where you might stumble across stalls selling vibrantly pigmented silks, sweet stuffed dates, expertly tanned leathers and aromatic teas. You’re just as likely to find yourself in the lavishly decorated courtyard of a mosque or madrasa, or a charming café serving up pastries and mint tea. As a tourist you’re required to go through the souk with a guide to ensure your safety and ease of navigation, but there’s something truly charming about imagining getting lost in this world that it feels as if time forgot.

During my time in Fez, I stayed in Riad El Yacout, a stunningly restored residential home located in the souks. I vividly remember being awoken by the hypnotic morning call to prayer as fog rolled in dramatically over the city.

While Fez dazzled me with its abundance of everything, it also left me feeling strangely grounded, finally surrounded by the real-life expression of the furnishings and artifacts I had grown up around. It’s no surprise that my passion for Morocco flows out through my work, particularly evident in my Africa Collection. From authentic materials, to colorful gemstones, artisanal techniques to cultural symbols, my aim was to infuse not only the genuine spirit of this incredible country, but also the deep emotional resonance I feel for it, into every single piece I create.

Merida: A Land of Contrasts

A place where sacred ceremonies and vibrant fiestas, reflection and revelry can coexist and actually influence one another. Mérida is the hub of a dynamic, almost contradictory culture like nowhere else on earth, one that’s painted on its canvases, dyed on its textiles and mixed into its fiery cuisine.

When Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mérida in 1542, they were greeted by imposing Mayan temples and sophisticated architecture beyond anything they could have comprehended. What these adventurers could never have anticipated either was the profound resonance and resilience of the Mayan culture, the influence of which is still felt strongly to this day.

The vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, Mérida today is a fascinating blend of Mayan civilization dating back to 2600 B.C. and Spanish colonial style of the 16th century. To a lesser extent, French, British, Lebanese and Dutch influences can be seen and felt throughout the city, lending it a richness, depth and contrast all its own.

Many visitors are drawn to Mérida to immerse themselves in its beautifully preserved heritage from both the ancient and colonial eras—awe-inspiring ruins, stunning cathedrals, limestone monuments and plateresque mansions. Likewise, its natural beauty—evidenced in underground rivers, swimming holes and azure blue shores—brings more and more tourists every year. While these elements certainly piqued my imagination, what made me fall in love with Mérida was its underlying sense of passion—a passion for creative expression, culinary experimentation and social interaction that almost buzzes in the air.

Nicknamed "The White City" (La Ciudad Blanca), Mérida is actually a very vibrant locale. The narrow streets are flanked by houses in pastel shades of sherbet pink, warm peach and mint green, while a step inside one of the cities many museums or art galleries confronts you with bold paintings, sketches, sculptures and installations that speak to the region’s past, present and future. While the surroundings may feel historic, I was amazed by how much the city has evolved in artistic terms.

When most people think of Mexico, they think of Cancun, Cabo San Lucas or maybe even Tulum. When I think of Mexico, my mind, heart and soul are drawn back to Mérida. It’s a place that has influenced me and my craft perhaps more than I’ll ever fully know, but every now and again I see the hints of it in myself and my work. When I take a risk, venture on the road less traveled, do something completely unexpected or unleash my fiery side, I know that’s a little bit of Mérida in me.

Cambodia: the Power of People

Spanning lush low-lying plains, lofty mountains and a glittering coastline, Cambodia’s incredibly varied landscape only hints at the wonders—of all kinds—that await you upon arrival.

Bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia is a country with a turbulent and troubled past that details violent power struggles, most famously the Cambodian Genocide under the Khmer Rouge. For these reasons, many visitors prefer to focus on a very specific vision of Cambodia, that of stunning ancient temples, charming villages and picturesque treks, but for me, it’s impossible to experience and truly understand a place without understanding its struggles, both past and present.

While I checked many of the expected things off my bucket list in Cambodia, notably taking in the unbelievable Angkor Wat temple complex, collecting treasures in Siem Reep and sampling the unique local cuisine, what really spoke to me (and stayed with me long after I left) was the essence and spirit of the Cambodian people.

An experience that I often recall is visiting several restaurants and striking up conversations with the young people working there, only to find out that they had been rescued from human trafficking or life on the streets. Many restaurants throughout Cambodia not only provide jobs, but also help in the fight to provide a better life for children and teenagers throughout the country. Again, while this may not be the Cambodia that tourists choose to see, it speaks to the strength, resilience and humanity of its people, something that I felt first-hand everywhere I went. A major influence in my craft is being able to give back, so hearing these stories only made my convictions stronger..

Visitors may also choose to pass on visiting the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh as it stands as an eternal reminder of the devastating impact the Khmer Rouge had on this country and its citizens. Personally, I knew that I had to visit, not only to understand the country’s history but also its epic recovery. Within the city, palaces, monuments and memorials combine Asian and French colonial influences to beautiful effect. Once known as “The Pearl of Asia,” the city has emerged from its dark past more dazzling than ever. In my mind, this is a direct result of the unique mindset of the Cambodian people, at once proud of their history yet incredibly forward-thinking.

Beyond Cambodia’s past and present, it’s lush landscapes and elaborate temples, what has stayed with me and truly impacted my life to this day are its people. There is a deep, genuine kindness there, a warmth of spirit and an understanding that has to be experienced to be believed. It’s a feeling that you are always welcome visitor and welcome to share in their experiences, good and bad. It’s one of the only places in the world that my soul felt at home as soon as I arrived and that I continue to miss long after I left.

Tel Aviv: City of Rebirth

Tel Aviv is perfectly named. Meaning “Hill of Spring” in Hebrew, it’s a city that seems to be constantly blooming with newness, refreshing and renewing itself every day. As such, it’s also a city that defies expectations, flouts conventions and loves to surprise every chance it gets.

When I first thought of Israel, images of ancient cities, time-honored traditions and complicated political relationships were conjured up in my mind. While it’s impossible (and naïve) to ignore the tensions between Israel and Palestine or the fact that the country is a place of holy pilgrimage, that is not the essence of what Tel Aviv is. In fact, the opposite is true.

Firstly, Tel Aviv defies any type of categorization when it comes to aesthetics. Walk down a street in any of the city’s nine districts and you’ll likely encounter 1930s Bauhaus, Art Deco, classical and modernist buildings next to sleek skyscrapers. Much to my surprise and amazement, Tel Aviv’s coastline echoed that of Rio de Janeiro, with its shimmering sea and swaying palm trees. Surfers rise and fall on the horizon, and its undeniably beautiful residents soak up the sun wherever possible. The energy is youthful, frenetic and completely fun-loving. More than many other places I’ve visited, Tel Aviv feels like a living, breathing organism with a pulse that can almost be felt.

After a day spent at the beach, the city invites you to enjoy some of the best nightlife anywhere in the world, perhaps starting with a Mediterranean-African-Middle-Eastern-inspired feast of shakshuka, falafel, tahini and all the pita you can consume to fuel dancing until dawn. Tel Aviv is a city that perpetually reminds you to live in the present and make the most of every moment.

As much as Tel Aviv residents know how to let loose, they also know how to let go. Just a short trip away from the relentless pace of the city, you can let your thoughts drift away (literally) in the Dead Sea. The perfect complement and contrast to Tel Aviv, in the Dead Sea I was able to completely relax.

The experience of floating, feeling completely weightless is exactly how I imagine a trip to space would be! I almost forgot that I was in a body, just conscious of my thoughts as they came and went. It certainly offered some creative clarity in the midst of the frenetic energy of the city. In addition, the magnesium-rich mud provided the most incredible, natural and inexpensive skin treatment I’ve ever had!

To say that Israel wasn’t what I expected would be an understatement. To me, Tel Aviv felt so unbelievably carefree, almost an atmosphere that had naturally evolved out of necessity. Being situated so close to the center of weighty political tensions, heavy unresolved conflicts and religious stoicism, it’s as if Tel Aviv chose to simply let it all go, reinvent itself and embrace happiness, spontaneity and joy as much as possible. A lesson that we can all take away from this incredibly inspiring city.

Bristol: An Artistic Adventure

It may sound strange to say, but creativity is truly something that fuels me every single day, almost as much as food and water. Whether it’s expressing my own creativity by crafting jewelry or soaking in the creativity of others, I simply can’t imagine a life without it. Even when I’m not traveling, my daily life is saturated with art in every imaginable form—from music to fashion, architecture to gastronomy. I’m endlessly fascinated by how others’ minds find inspiration and channel it through their chosen mediums. I’m also, by nature, curious and always ready to experience something new, so when I travel, discovering the local art scene is top of my list.

Throughout all my travels, one of the most uniquely creative cities I’ve been lucky enough to visit is Bristol. While London gets the praise for being rich historically, culturally and artistically, the same is just as true of Bristol. Located in the West Country of England, the city is perfectly situated with Bath to the southeast, Gloucester to the north and Cardiff to the northwest. However, during my time there, I never felt the need (or want) to leave as there was always something novel and exciting to discover around the corner.

The city grew up around the River Avon and, as such, has a small coastline with a charming waterfront dotted with art galleries, restaurants, pubs and artisan stores. Venture away from the shore and there’s a cornucopia to discover—fairytale cobbled streets, secret gin bars, vibrant music venues and even woodland trails. There’s a sense of imagination and optimism that permeates absolutely everything, perhaps in part due to the fact that Bristol is incredibly youth-oriented and has the reputation of being incredibly welcoming and inclusive on all fronts.

One of my reasons for wanting to visit Bristol was to see the works of one of my favorite street artists, Banksy. Like many people, I’d seen his work before, but never in the context of the city where it was created, always in the somewhat sterile environment of an art gallery. Since the semi-anonymous and now world-famous artist was born in Bristol in 1974, there’s nowhere better on earth to see his work than in the setting he intended it to be seen!

As part of the wave of street art that took place in Bristol in the ‘80s, Banksy was prolific around the city, so much so that walking tours are dedicated to visiting his most famous works. Wandering around, it’s staggering to see the scope and scale of street art and graffiti in Bristol, some old, some new, some illegal, some commissioned.

As I took in Banksy’s Grim Reaper, The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum, Paint-Pot Angel, Masked Gorilla and more, I found myself contemplating the place of creativity within our culture, in particular why certain artwork is perceived as more valuable than others. Street art, by its very nature, is defiant and transitory, it represents a very specific moment in time and, when preserved, can act as a time capsule back into the mentality of an era.

One of the reasons why I love to infuse different forms of artwork into my own life, and indeed when photographing my jewelry, is to play on the contrast and cohesion between them. To me, an image of an antique bracelet set on a tattooed arm against a graffitied backdrop speaks volumes about the values we place on different types of creativity and the extent to which we see them as trendy or timeless.

In my mind, what truly defines art is intention. While I can’t speak to the intention of Banksy or any other artist, I know that when I put an artistic idea out into the world—whether it’s a physical piece of jewelry or simply an image on my website—I hope to not only share my own creativity, but the creativity of others. And perhaps even spark some that has been lying dormant in you all along!

Borneo: An Untouched Wonder

Home to one of the oldest and most wildlife-rich rainforests on the planet, Borneo has always occupied a special place in my imagination (and on my bucket list). Opportunities to visit areas of the world where nature remains relatively untouched are few and far between, so I knew that at some point in my life, I had to make visiting Borneo a priority.

The world’s third largest island, situated Southeast Asia’s Malay Archipelago, Borneo is effectively split between Indonesian Kalimantan, the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the nation of Brunei. The landscape is quite literally nature at its finest—lush, dense forest, misty mountain peaks and jewel-hued waters. The island is also home to some of the rarest and most fascinating animal and plant life in the world, including the Bornean orangutan, Bornean pygmy elephant, large-nosed proboscis monkey and Sumatran rhino.

You don’t just wake up and decide to visit Borneo! The trip took meticulous planning and a lot of patience as the island—and particularly the heart of the rainforest—are incredibly hard to access. My dedication and endurance were certainly tested several times, but I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything in the world.

I stayed in the beautiful Danum Valley, a low-lying area in Sabah, Malaysia. As a conservation area, the scope of flora and fauna was absolutely staggering. I felt completely immersed in nature’s domain, simply a visitor lucky enough to take it all in. While challenging, the jungle treks were a dream come true. I was transported into another world, walking amongst thousands of towering tropical trees and vibrant plants, listening to the hum of the wildlife and waiting for a rare sighting. The animal I was most passionate about seeing in their natural habitat were the orangutans, and when the long hours long walks and numerous leeches, yes leeches, finally paid off, it was so worth the wait.

Seeing the orangutans in their own playground was an awakening and enlightening experience. In our world of constant interconnection, instant access to anything and relentless movement, stopping to appreciate the beauty of something untouched was truly magical. It’s places like these that the world we know was born, yet we do so little to preserve and admire it.

If we can’t slow down to appreciate the beauty of the natural world, recognize how we are damaging it and make steps to give back, how can we move forward in any sort of meaningful way? It’s my hope that, one day, Jada Jo Jewelry will be able to, in some part, support and protect areas of the world such as Borneo.