More Than Just a Pretty Name

Pamela Love turns out designs that aren’t all nice 

Text by Kiira Mancasola

At a first glance, 26-year-old jewelry designer, Pamela Love, is a bit of a paradox. You don’t expect a pretty fashion up-and-comer who closes her emails “XO” to play drums in a psychedelic-rock garage band. Similarly, you don’t expect bone-and claw-inspired bangles and baubles to come from an eponymous collection with “Love” in its title. But somehow, these disparate and seemingly clashing elements find a stylish harmony in both Pamela Love’s jewelry collection and her person.

A New Yorker to her core, Love grew up in Brooklyn and she has no plans to leave anytime soon. Love didn’t even see the need to flee the city during her college years (she got her BFA in Film from Tisch at NYU), and why would she when one of the best art schools in the country is right next door? This isn’t to say that NYC is above Love’s criticism. “I hate getting around. It’s a pain in the ass. I hate how much cigarettes cost. I hate that there is no land anywhere. I hate that everyone always seems to be rushing somewhere,” she says. And while there are plenty of things that Love loves about New York (among them are Coney Island and the museums), she is hesitant to let the city influence her designs. When asked how the city inspires her, Love says, “I don’t know that it does. There is a lot going on in Brooklyn that interests me but I worry that there is too much going on that all looks the same…collective consciousness and whatnot.”

Love seems to be impervious to this collective consciousness she speaks of, because her designs are nothing if not sui generis. She cites as inspiration for her collection things as unusual as “tarot cards, the zodiac, the bible, Jodorowsky, [and] van Eyck.” “I am very inspired by jewelry from around the world—especially Africa, India and South America… I like to mix the imagery from these places with the more magical elements from religion and magic,” Love says, adding: “Bones and teeth especially play a huge role in jewelry historically.” Bones and teeth (along with snakes and claws) also play a huge role in Love’s own collection and if you know a little about Love’s background, her corporeal preoccupation comes into focus. “My dad was an orthopedic surgeon so we had skeletons in my house and he had a room in his office full of prosthetics that always fascinated me,” says Love. “I am drawn to medical imagery and science, I think, because I was so interested in both growing up.” Love’s collection looks as if she took all of her somatic childhood influences and slathered them in gold and silver (with a sprinkling of precious and semi-precious stones). Her signature piece—a talon cuff of 18-karat gold over brass—goes for $700 ($900 for the solid silver version).
Despite her natural aptitude, Love didn’t grow up dreaming about designing jewelry (unsurprisingly, she wanted to be a scientist). “I never made the decision to become a jewelry designer. It was just one of the many projects I was working on and it just started to take off,” she says. But Love has no regrets, adding: “Luckily for me I love doing it. I think jewelry is special and romantic and magical.”