An Artist’s Quest to Protect Suriname’s Rain Forest
New York is 3,000 miles—and an ecological light-year—away from Suriname, the rain forest–rich country nestled on the northeastern shoulder of South America. But for Manhattan-based jewelry designer Pamela Love, the sleepy, relatively untouristed spot was well worth visiting and revisiting: on vacation in 2012, and then on business last November. “Suriname is unusually rich in natural resources,” Love says of the country that produces about 80,000 pounds of gold each year.
Love, who’s best known for her Native American–inspired pieces (like her iconic Talon cuff bracelet and arrowhead pendant), makes her jewelry in Manhattan with stones that have been ethically mined, and she does everything she can to see firsthand the conditions that make her craft possible. On this trip, she came to observe Suriname’s gold mining practices, meet with government officials, and raise awareness in her industry about extraction techniques that don’t exploit workers or destroy the environment. “As a designer, I think it’s important for me to understand the struggles behind the materials that supply the jewelry trade,” she says.