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Rolling in the Deep

Jewelry designer Misha Lam takes the plunge for hidden treasures.

Misha Lam catches some rays at Keawa‘ula Beach on O‘ahu.

For those raised in the tropical riptides of the Pacific, the ocean can be a seductive siren. One year ago, Misha Lam was battling a chilly nor’easter blasting down Broadway and found her mind wandering back to the happy isles of Hawai‘i. “I spent six years in New York working my way up in the world of fashion,” says the Punahou alum. “The truth is, I had a great job [and] an amazing salary, but something kept calling me home.”

A few months later, Lam quit her job, jettisoned her apartment and reset her roots again in the island sand. But the sea’s song only grew stronger. “I started free diving for shells with my best friend,” explains Lam. “Now I’m obsessed!” A fine-arts grad of both USC and Parsons The New School of Design with illustrious stints at J.Crew, Façade shoes, Dolce & Gabbana, VEDA and glam rocker Gwen Stefani’s L.A.M.B. label, Lam feels as comfortable in the world of high fashion as she does in a mask and fins. For her, fusing her two passions was a natural evolution.

The ocean adventure has been a lucrative one, too. Lam’s jewelry now stars in beach chic boutiques like Fighting Eel and Sand People—and smart shops as far-flung as Santa Cruz, Calif., and Queensland, Australia. In a given month, Lam makes upwards of 700 new pieces. Whether it’s a cat comb bangle, sunrise shell earrings or a cowry shell ring roped in gold, her jewelry is always handpicked and custom-created. “[Looking for] a new shell you’ve never found before is like a treasure hunt,” she laughs. Lucky for us, she’s more than happy to share her hard-fought finds with the rest of us on shore. 

Lam’s Hots
Traveling, Via Gelato, Illy coffee, Jana Lam handbags, mermaids, free diving, Tahitian pearls, Bikram yoga, leather

Lam’s Nots
Littering, high-waisted clothing, Crocs, pretentiousness, negativity