In early March, during Fashion Week, Pamela Love opened her very first store, in Paris. As an art graduate, she worked as an assistant to Italian painter Francesco Clemente, known for his mystical, expressionist canvases, before launching her jewellery brand in 2008. Her jewellery - each one a tiny architectural feat made of gold, silver or brass - comes inlaid with diamonds or semi-precious stones such as opal, malachite and ruby; fascinating talismans with a powerful spiritual vibe. Meet a designer who is inspired and inspires.
MONNIER Frères: How did you get into jewellery?
Pamela Love: I've been making jewellery since I was a kid. Jewellery was an obsession for me. I started out with bead work and then I learned how to make very ornate clay beads. I then started taking jewellery classes and started to make proper jewellery... When I graduated from college, I started making jewellery for me and my friends, as a hobby. I never really realised it could become a job! But little by little, I started to sell to a couple of stores and I began making some crazy stuff for friends working in fashion, for their photo shoots. Then eventually it became more serious and I had to find an office and employees, and so on.
M.F.: The works of Joan Miró are found in the abstract forms of your latest rings. And you worked as an assistant to the painter Francesco Clemente. Art seems to be really important to you. Could you tell us a little more about your artistic tastes and inspirations?
P.L.: I minored in painting in college and I worked for many years as a painting assistant to Francesco Clemente, an Italian painter based in New York, who sort of became a mentor to me. We remain very close, and my work with him has really helped to shape my influences in my jewellery. Georgia O'Keefe and Frida Kahlo are also huge influences on me. Millicent Rogers, too, who was famous for having one of the best Southwest jewellery collections in the world and had the most amazing style. Oh, and I always say Johnny Cash!
M.F.: You are also influenced by tarot cards, desert landscapes, the American Southwest and nature in general...
P.L.: Obviously I'm inspired by all these different things, but I am also very much inspired by jewellery itself, by the craft and techniques. I am obsessed with inlay: it's the most amazing technique and so I use it a lot in my work. I've been obsessed by inlay jewellery since I first went to New Mexico and Arizona, to the desert, and saw the amazing Southwest micro-inlay technique.
M.F.: You work with so many different types of stones: lapis lazuli, opal, malachite, ruby and more. Do you have a preference for one of them?
P.L.: I do have a weakness for opal because it's just the most magical stone. I could look at a thousand opals and each one is different...
M.F.: Your creations are very spiritual, almost mystical at times. According to Francesco Clemente, "they perpetuate, in an innovative way, the centuries-old tradition of talismans”. Do you share his point of view?
P.L.: I am really influenced by the occult, magic...
M.F.: So that's why you love opal...
P.L.: Yes, it's the witch's stone! I love the symbols that reappear in different traditions, especially ones that have to do with luck and good fortune. And I read tarot cards, so I am heavily influenced by the iconography in tarot. My mother kind of got me into it when I was young, she gets her cards read, her tea leaves read, she goes to psychics and astrologers.
M.F.: The theme of death is very present in the iconography of tarot cards, isn't it?
P.L.: In fact, I started my jewellery line when my father died, so my first collection was inspired by the Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, because I became obsessed with the idea of celebrating the dead, instead of mourning them, like in Mexican culture. That helped me to deal with my grief. If my father hadn't passed away, I probably would not have gone so deeply into creating jewellery. It was a really healthy way for me to channel my grief - instead of doing drugs or spending lots of money on shopping, or whatever.
M.F.: So you got into the creative process instead?
P.L.: I was just channelling through creating. And I was travelling a lot at that time because I didn't have as much responsibility. I went to New Mexico for two weeks on a road trip. I just wanted to go and travel. Wander. I also went to the Caribbean. And on no money, of course, so it was not very glamorous, but it was cool.
M.F.: Do you still travel a lot?
P.L.: Yes, I do, for work. I travel as much as I can for influence, but I also really love being at home. New York is incredibly inspiring... It's the best city in the world! There's the best museums, the best galleries. The culture is just so incredible. The diversity, the neighbourhoods... and so much energy!
M.F.: Do you create on your own?
P.L.: I have a team now. I started wanting to create larger pieces, like metal sculptures and very large metalwork, but it's hard because there's not a lot of room in New York...
M.F.: Do you have a favourite accessory? One that you would never give to anyone?
P.L.: I have this ring that I wear every day, which is the ring that my dad gave my mom when she was pregnant with me. I wear it every day. And my grandmother left me her Elsa Perreti perfume bottle necklace with a malachite top.
M.F.: So you always keep it with you?
P.L.: I have a little box next to my bed and it has all my grandmothers' jewellery in it - my two grandmothers. I have this necklace, as well as other Elsa Perreti pieces from my grandmother, because she was a collector. And then from my other grandmother, I have these gold and emerald earrings. She was Czechoslovakian and a Holocaust survivor, and I have these earrings that she managed to smuggle out and keep.
M.F.: Do you work with emeralds? Green seems to be having a comeback this season.
P.L.: I do, a bit. I love mixing emeralds and malachite. I do that a lot. I like tonal juxtaposition so I like sapphire with lapis, or emerald with malachite.