Boost your Fashion IQ with Pure Dead Brilliant Jewelry
For jewelry designer Nora Logan, the phrase “roam around the world” is more than the title of a B-52’s song. Born in New York, Logan moved to Hong Kong with her family at the age of seven and, two years later, the clan relocated again — this time to London, where they spent the next 15 years. By the time Logan was in her teen years, an incorrigible wanderlust had clearly set in, an eagerness to see the world and immerse herself in different cultures, languages, and art forms. She completed her university studies in Scotland, lived in Paris and later Rennes for almost two years total, and even ventured to Bali, where she lived for two years and eventually launched her line PDB Jewelry (“PDB” stands for “Pure Dead Brilliant,” Scottish slang for things that are, well, sicker than average). Since PDB Jewelry’s official launch in February 2011, the line has expanded immensely, with actress Amy Adams wearing a pair of PDB earrings and necklace in a W magazine editorial earlier this year and the brand’s baubles being stocked in nine different countries . As Logan, who now lives in New York City, puts it, the PDB aesthetic is “distinctively bold and cultivates a relationship between an off-the-cuff sensibility and a reverence for beauty, all with penchant for the quirky!”
Ever since the mega talented Jules Kim (the mastermind behind Bijules jewelry) introduced me to Pure Dead Brilliant Jewelry, I’ve been unable to stop gushing about Logan’s brilliance and her truly innovative approach to design.
Many of the brand’s pieces are influenced by Logan’s many travel — particularly the “Move Me” and “London Calling” collections. The latter incorporates references to London’s iconic red double-decker buses, with clever conversation pieces like the No. 14 London Bus Gold Hoop Earrings ($205 at pdbjewelry.com), shown at top, which boast a 6.5 cm diameter. “My mother wrote guide books to London, so she would constantly have us taking late night or early morning bus rides all around the city, and it was so much more exciting to be able to see everything from up above since London has so many ocular delights,” says Logan of the many bus rides she took while growing up in London and which informed the feel of her “London Calling” collection.
Similarly, the “Move Me” collection explores the idea of transportation and its many forms by incorporating sculptural depictions of steamboats and Vespas. “I love the idea of transport and moving parts in my pieces,” says Logan. “It adds something that is not evident to the naked eye, and it forces people to inquire, to touch.” Just like the “London Calling” pieces were inspired by the many years she spent in the Square Mile, the “Move Me” designs were informed by having to learn how to drive a Vespa in order to weave in and out of traffic while living in Bali. Standout pieces in this collection include: the Steamboat Gilly Gold Necklace ($396 at pdbjewelry.com), pictured second from top, which incorporates a 22 carat gold vermeil-coated steamboat pendant measuring 3.5 cm in length and 4.5 cm in width, its detailed design replete with a paddle accent along its side; and the Charlie Gold Vespa Link Bracelet ($378 at pdbjewelry.com), pictured third from top, which features a chain of connected Vespa scooter charms.
Music has also played a huge role in Logan’s designs. In fact, her “Who Says Cassettes Are Dead?” collection was inspired by the mixtapes her parents would compile — especially those her mom made to use as the soundtrack for her exercise routines. “I remember this one mixtape in particular that was incredible, with Squeeze, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, The Stones, Carly Simon,” says Logan. “This collection really stemmed from this particular mixtape and a feeling of nostalgia for all the mixtapes I had growing up.” The “Who Says Cassettes Are Dead?” collection, then, incorporates such retro-inspired pieces as the Alicia Gold Cassette Earrings ($208 at pdbjewelry.com), shown fifth above, which measure 3cm in length and 1.6 cm in width and are stamped with the phrase “Cassettes Are Dead” on the front and “Who Says Cassettes Are Dead” on the back as a nod to the Side A and Side B construction of typical tapes.
Similarly, books and films provide constant inspiration for Logan. In fact, one of Logan’s favorite pieces, the Nadia “Love Me If You Dare” Bangle ($250 at pdbjewelry.com), shown fourth above, was inspired by the 2003 film Jeux Des Infants, in which the two title characters engage in a game that requires them to perform stunt after stunt and dare after dare in an attempt to outdo one another. The slim cuff bracelet, then, is engraved with the words “Cap Ou Pas Cap” which can loosely be translated to “Are you capable or are you not capable?,” a phrase often uttered in games of Truth or Dare and which, of course, the film’s protagonists routinely employ. The bracelet, then, captures the romantic undercurrent of the film through this single phrase and the colored string used to tie it around the wrist adds another playful, almost child-like element, reminiscent of a forget-me-not ring or even a friendship bracelet.
In keeping with the heavily conceptual roots of the brand, the “Diamonds and Daggers” collection forces us to question the way we think of both of these items. Diamonds, for instance, have typically been associated with with luxury, flawlessness, romance, and infinity (the phrase “diamonds are forever” comes to mind!). By creating pendants and dangle earrings in diamond shapes boasting intricate cut-outs or, alternatively, funky hoop earrings engraved with diamond motifs, Logan hoped to “poke fun at the idea of diamonds and how they are ‘supposed’ to look, while also making a comment on creating ‘kind diamonds.'” The Christina Small Diamond Hoop Earrings ($195 at pdbjewelry.com) shown last above, for instance, take the classic hoop shape and subverts it by connecting a series of diamond shapes that create interesting angles and crevices. As for the daggers portion of the collection, Logan hoped to tap into the myths tied into these gothic instruments of death, thereby crafting sword-like earrings and pendants that feel elegant but lethal and which are adorned with sailboats, goats, and fleur de lys motifs meant to allude to age-old fairy tales. The Karina Silver Dagger Earrings ($200 at pdbjewelry.com), shown next to last above, speak to this push-and-pull between the dainty and the dangerous, the precious and the precarious. “The Diamonds and Daggers collection centers on making the mythical, often unattainable—such as diamonds and daggers—not only attainable but wearable in your everyday life,” says Logan.
Needless to say, when it comes to playing our own fashion “Cap Ou Pas Cap” game, we more than dare to love, wear, and cherish PDB Jewelry.