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May 1, 2017

Factories
Jewelry

Inside the Jeweler’s Studio With Pamela Love

Article written by: Victoria Gomelsky
Factories
Jewelry

May 1, 2017

About two and a half years ago, jewelry designer Pamela Love made an offhand remark to her mentor, Karen Harvey, about wanting to partner with a company she believed in—“you know, like Shinola,” she said. Harvey’s response: “Why didn’t you say so?” As it turned out, Harvey knew Shinola’s founder. After a quick call, she learned he was looking for a designer who could help the brand move into the jewelry category. The collection Love designed with Shinola debuted in October 2016, marking the beginning of a beautiful Love story.

Spend a few minutes with Pamela Love and you’ll quickly discover one of her most endearing qualities: She’s almost totally analog.   

“I hate computers,” Love says on a recent afternoon in her studio. “I don’t like to be tied to the desk. I want to work with my hands and I also want to move around a lot. Everyone here thinks it’s mind-boggling.”

Jewelry designer Pamela Love (pictured above)

Yet, it makes perfect sense: Love’s jewelry, which she’s been crafting since 2007, is earthy, organic, handmade—and heavy on symbols and motifs borrowed from astronomy, astrology, alchemy, botany and, especially, the American Southwest.

One of the biggest challenges Love faced in capturing the look and feel of the classic American styles that make up the Shinola line—think ID bracelets, signet rings and hoop earrings in silver and 14k gold—was marrying her own identity with the brand’s aesthetic. After countless late nights, Love and design director Krys Maniecki developed the concepts to bring the Shinola line to life.

All of the design work takes place at Love’s fourth-floor workshop in Manhattan’s Garment District, a 3,000-square-foot space brimming with folk art, crystals and ceramics (a colorful Moroccan rug in the hallway is a sign that visitors have come to the right place). Much of the artwork is created by friends and family.

“I think it’s really nice to keep the work of your friends close,” Love says.

But the eye-catching décor is merely a backdrop to the real action. Everything in the Pamela Love and Shinola jewelry collections passes through the Manhattan studio. While the bulk of the Shinola line is manufactured in Los Angeles by Love’s longtime manufacturing partner, designs and prototypes are handled here by Love’s three bench jewelers—Aldon Pascall, Theresa Lee and Gaby Bush—and overseen by production director Nicole Hendry, studio manager Nate Penney and Maniecki.

“It’s a manufacturing space,” Love says. “It’s not somewhere where you’re going to put a coffee table and books and not have them covered in metal dust.”

Her point is amplified by the sounds of metal being soldered, polished and sanded; the whirring of the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner; and the grinding of ball bearings inside a tumbler.

Penney, who joined the company as a bench jeweler in 2010—shortly after graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a degree in jewelry metals—says the team is gearing up to produce Love’s newest collection.  “They’re finishing up a last set of samples,” he explains. As if on cue, Pascall, a native of the Caribbean island of Tobago with 40 years’ experience at the bench (eight of those years spent with Pamela Love), begins hammering away at a chunk of metal.

The sound of jewelry being made coupled with the easy conversation that flows between Love’s artisans imbues the workshop with an industrious, homey vibe, heightened by the smell of freshly baked banana bread that someone has set out on a table. And unlike most New York studios, the space feels remarkably roomy.

“We have a couple open seats and extra flex shafts,” Penney says, referring to the motorized rotary tool—used to grind, polish and manipulate metal—that hangs from a stand positioned next to each bench.

Penney’s remark hints at something Love touches on later. “The whole goal with Shinola is to hire as many jewelers as possible and have them grow with the company,” she says.

All of which suggests the next chapter of Shinola’s Love story will be its finest.

Shop the Shinola Jewelry Collection Designed with Pamela Love

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