Veterans: The designer in Kadima

With her three children, 21, 16 and 14, still at home, she finds her days fully occupied, and making jewelry, which she loves, is still only a part, albeit an important one, of her life.

Pamela Harari 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Pamela Harari 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Her jewelry is beautiful, original and very noticeable. No wonder Pamela Harari has just won a prize, the Emerging Designer award given by Centurion Jewelry Company in the US.
She had to travel to Tucson, Arizona, to receive the award but didn’t mind at all. It was just one more step on the road that she embarked on 10 years ago – to give up all her other work and concentrate on what she loved most, creating gorgeous jewelry for discerning women, including several celebrities, who love her unusual creations and are prepared to trek over to Moshav Kadima to buy it, although she also sells in selected hotel boutiques too.
Pamela was born in Leeds, England, and made aliya alone at 20. She’d already taken a route fairly rare for young British Jewish girls from good families, having left school at 16 and been to France where she worked as an au pair. She spent a year with a Jewish family, which she describes as “an interesting experience.”
“I came back to Leeds after that year and did my O and A levels [matriculation] in French, which I had learned to speak well,” she recalls. She also took a jewelry course, having always been very artistic and loving to paint and sculpt, and feeling that in making jewelry she could use all these talents and end up with something marketable.
She came to the absorption center in Kfar Saba as she had a married sister living in the town. It was a reasonably soft landing thanks to her family nearby. She remembers life in those days as being simpler than it is today.
“It was like going to the other end of the world in 1982,” she says. “There wasn’t much here in terms of clothes or furniture shopping.”
After the first ulpan, she did a second in Givat Oz and eventually met her husband, Dror, and began working for a tour operator, while studying jewelry in the evenings at Omanut in Jaffa.
“I had to take care of the tourists, mainly from Britain, and make sure they were happy with the arrangements,” she says.
After leaving the tourist job, she even worked for a couple of years in the advertising department at The Jerusalem Post.
But all she really wanted to do was make jewelry, which she could only do in her spare time.
For the next seven years after leaving the Post she worked in a graphic design studio in Ra’anana, as the accounts manager.
“The jewelry was on a back burner all this time,” she recalls.
At 40 she decided it was now or never and she would take the plunge and open her business full-time, giving up all her other activities. Her husband, a sales engineer in a water purification company, supported her decision to leave the workforce and the steady income she was bringing in for the unknown benefits of selling highend jewelry.
“It wasn’t easy – this is a small country and since I started so many schools have opened up and every year a host of new graduates emerge – but I do believe there is room for everybody,” she says.
Twice a week she makes a trip to the Bourse to buy the gold and stones she needs for her creations.
“I never know what I'm going to design,” she says. “I buy stones and special Tahitian pearls, which are very large, and I spread everything out before me. Only then do I get ideas on what they are going to be.”
She describes her style as “ancient with a twist of rough and modern” and her pieces are not finished like conventional jewelry.
“My work is not highly polished and it’s very asymmetrical,” she says. Nevertheless she has a loyal following and is becoming quite well-known in the field.
The hardest part is to work out how to make it work financially when she is an artist at heart and admits to not having a business head.
“The prices of the raw materials I use fluctuate all the time,” she says. “When I have to start working out what’s happening in the stock market, it takes some of the pleasure out of the whole enterprise.”
However, she even made a trip to Dubai a few years ago to find out what was going on in the market there.
“There was a recession here so I asked myself, ‘Where can I go that the recession hasn’t hit yet?’” she says.
She is learning from experience and slowly becoming known, with an article in Globes about her which was very welcome.
“It’s a learning curve,” she says, “and I found out I know so little it’s humbling.”
With her three children, 21, 16 and 14, still at home, she finds her days fully occupied, and making jewelry, which she loves, is still only a part, albeit an important one, of her life.