Meet Luv AJ And Get Your Killer Accessory Game On

Accessories from Luv Aj's Heavy Metal Lover collection.
Photo: Courtesy of Luv Aj

If there's one name you need to get to know in the world of accessories, it's Amanda Thomas of Luv Aj. The LA-based designer creates heavy metal (literally) jewelry that has been worn and loved by everyone from Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea to Rachel Bilson and Vanessa Hudgens. The mix n' match pieces are made of both pristine and worn-looking antique metals and include everything from criss-crossed studs, layered necklaces, and giant perforated cuffs to body chains and turbans. To put it mildly, these are accessories for your inner badass annnnd we pretty much want every single piece in the collection. Thus, we spoke to Thomas about her accessory heroes, how she sold her first collection in college, and just how to wear a body chain.

From left: Luv Aj Crystal Cross body chain, earrings, and necklace; Ikat Knot Turban and Pyramid Stud ID bracelet.
Photo: Courtesy of Luv Aj

MTV STYLE: Did you always want to be a jewelry designer?

Amanda Thomas: I started out when I was 14 or 15 years old. I used to intern for a store designer on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA, named Corey Madley. My parents would drop me off after school and on the weekends, and I would help in her studio. I just fell in love with it, so I started buying chains and beads on my own, and going to flea markets and finding cool trinkets to mix and match on charm necklaces.

How did you start selling your pieces?

I would always wear my own creations, and one day when I was in Fred Segal, one of the jewelry buyers complimented my necklace and I told her I had made it. She asked me if we could set up a meeting to show her my collection, and Fred Segal picked up my line my junior year of high school in 2004. That's when Luv Aj was officially created.

Luv Aj Perforated Cross Cuffs.
Photo: Courtesy of Luv Aj

Who do you have in mind when designing?

Honestly, I have me in mind when I'm designing. It sounds selfish, but I just design my dream accessories each season and pray that people like it. In terms of inspiration, I am always inspired by materials. I love finding an awesome rock or crystal and figuring out how to make it into a pendant or bracelet or something. Also, I love hunting for interesting vintage components and figuring out how to incorporate them into jewelry.

Who would you say is the Luv Aj kind of girl?

I'd say Luv Aj jewelry is a one part feminine and one part badass, so the Luv Aj chick can be a lot of girls. I think edgy and confident customers are drawn to the line initially, but there is honestly something for everyone to wear. The Luv Aj girl is the kind of girl who plans her outfits around her accessories, not her clothes.

Luv Aj Double Chain Spike Necklaces.
Photo: Courtesy of Luv Aj

I love that! I also love that you make unusual jewelry pieces like body chains. How do you suggest wearing one?

People get intimidated by body jewelry, but it's actually quite easy to wear. If you're timid, put a blazer over it. That way you see a hint of the body chain but not the whole thing. I like wearing mine with oversized sweaters so it gives the boxy silhouette a bit more of a shape.

Who are your accessory heroes?

I die for all things Givenchy and Alexander Wang. They kill it every season with their bags and shoes, and it makes me want to make lots and lots of money so I can buy their pieces each season. I also love Kate Lanphear and the way she wears accessories. She likes to pile on the jewelry but there's always a subtly and a curated quality to her looks which I love.

Accessories from Luv Aj's Heavy Metal Lover collection.
Photo: Courtesy of Luv Aj

What do you listen to while you're working?

Lately I've had Iggy Azalea, Australian rapper and all around badass, playing in the office while I work. If I was a rapper, I would be her. I'm biased as well because she wears Luv Aj all the time. I love me some Odd Future as well, anything bass-heavy with slightly offensive lyrics.

What can we look forward to seeing in your new collections for fall?

I'm always experimenting with materials. I actually headed to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show this season and found some amazing fossils and things I will be working with for fall. I know for sure that you will be seeing some shark teeth in my new collection… Givenchy heavily inspired me for next season.

Fossils? Shark teeth? Yes, please.

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