In my mind there are three categories of jewels: jewelry as fashion, jewelry as investment and jewelry as art. The rest is quite frankly not worth having. It is very rare that I use the term “artist”, certain words carry weight and cannot be thrown around lightly. So when I say that Canadian jewelry designer, Claudio Pino, is an “artist”, I mean that his jewelry has transcended just good craftsmanship and is indeed in my opinion, truly innovating and pushing the boundaries of precious gems and metals and in the process creating something substantial as an artform rather than just pretty baubles. I have no idea how I came across these designs but when I saw them I was rendered speechless (yes, that is a feat, I know). Its as if Alexander McQueen + a nutty professor + swiss watchmaker + Mad Max + the Jetsons all procreated ensemble and their offspring were these fabulous designs! SO, I tracked down the man behind the jewelry and got an interview for my DMD darlings. . .
JZP: Claudio, it is very clear to me when I look at your pieces that your work comes form a place of passion. You didn’t just fall into this profession did you? How and when did you realize that jewelry was your calling?
Pino: During my childhood, I could spend hours drawing and painting. I always have been fascinated by design and architecture; colors and shapes. I would always ask to look inside jewelry boxes; I was mesmerized by the vivid colors of the stones and the shinning gold, dreaming of one day becoming a famous jewelry designer who could create a magic ring like the ones in the dragon’s tales.
JZP: I would tease you about Dungeons and Dragons but I am a closet geek myself so I’m going to refrain–you know what they say glass houses, throwing stones etc. Although in my defense I never got into D&D or Lord of the Rings. I was more of a Legends of Zelda girl. Where do inspirations for your work come from nowadays?
Pino: My artistic interests have been drawn to the personal relationship people have with the jewelry they wear. Sometimes, I add meticulous mechanisms to give the stone set the freedom to follow the owner’s movements, reflecting the wearer in many small, intricate ways. Each of my designs represents a different thematic system — a mirror of multiple metaphors. Whether exploring systems in motion, metamorphosis of insects or the pace of urban life, my passion awakens first in the transformation of the raw material. I have always been inspired by the ancient art of jewelry making, especially the history of rings.
Each of my design has a different story. Always inspired by the importance of each element of our surrounding and their interaction between each other, MYSTICAL FLOWERING was designed to represents the rare Night-Blooming Cereus. A magical plant that once a year, it revives as it from trance, for only the duration of the evening. Attracted by its sublime aroma, the Sphinx moths pollinate them, giving them life. The two fingers ring portrays the shape of that butterfly and this unique flower that communicate the continuous cycle of life.
JZP: Mystical Flowering is my favorite piece in your Kinetic Rings collection. The blossoming aspect is very clear from the get-go, the cluster of pearls remind me of the parts of the flower called the “filament’ and the ‘anther” where the pollen is held. The Anther is also the male reproductive element of the flower and I find it very interesting that there is that male-female interplay in your jewelry.
TACTUS Ring juxtaposes the cold silver to the warm brass and copper. This hinged ring draws a bridge between the traditions of the metallic suits of armor worn in the middle ages to the historic representation of jewelry throughout time. It restores the importance of precision, expression and precious embellishment , while questioning how the sensation of touch has been amplified over the centuries, especially through the influence of digital culture.
JZP: That interplay between male-female surfaces again. Suits of armor, traditionally worn by knights yet you adapt it into a woman’s ring and add the softness of the theme of touch. Love the androgyny here.
While MAGNIFICENCE STELLAIRE was inspired by the immensity of the starry sky in the farthest reaches of the northern hemisphere, a sky that unifies us. The central stone, a black opal, portrays the aurora borealis with colorful and turbulent wisps of air in the vibrant darkness of the night. The stone rotates 360 degrees in four directions (South, North, West, East), thanks to a carefully designed and complex little mechanism. This system consists of various elements, including eight white freshwater pearls, which symbolize the lunar phases. On the sides of the ring, several golden drops shimmer tracing the magnificence of the Milky Way. It also features moonstones that epitomize the black holes of our universe. It represents not only the magnitude of the sky but also the importance of each different element in our system. A vast sky that unites us all despite the great distances that separate us.
JZP: I know you design for both men and women but specifically, what type of woman do you have in mind when you are designing?
Pino: When I draw my design, I always have in mind that one day it will find its owner who will create a special relationship with it. Sometime, people will contact me first and talk about the one they love, or themselves so I can make a jewellery specially for them related to their personality, the date of birth, and fill the piece with symbols… I really love to have this kind of exchange with the client, it is always a honor to have that chance. I am often contacted to create sensational engagement rings and sculptural wedding rings. Many people are looking for something different—unique! They want an extraordinary piece that demonstrates their love, filled with personal symbols, details, stories—something that will be part of their history and will be handed down through future generations. For me, it is always so inspiring to design something special for those who want to immortalize their love.
JZP: I totally understand that. Creating bespoke pieces allow for a different type of connection and personalization with your client. I find that my clients often inspire and push me to another level just and its an incredible gift to be able to challenge yourself to create something unique for another individual. Who would you like to see wearing your pieces?
Pino: I would love to create something really eccentric – likes a five fingers Kinetic Ring for Lady Gaga.
JZP: Note to Gaga if you’re reading this! What do you hope to achieve with your jewelry?
Pino: In a world of mass production and mass consumption my rings embody the desire to be unique, to be distinct and to be original – one-of-a-kind. The role of my work is to make this desire come true.
JZP: Every jewelry designer has historical or industry icons who inspire them and who we want to emulate. Who are yours?
Pino: I am fascinated by the creativity of the masterpieces made by the pioneer of modern jewelry, René Lalique (1860-1945) and intrigued by the innovation in each free-blown functional and sculptural glass work by the artist Dale Chihuly (1941-).
I am mesmerized by the way they both explore colors, shapes, and assemblage, always bringing a magical, fairylike aspect to their artwork. Although living in different historical periods and am creating in different fields and media, they both incorporated new techniques while always pushing forward with their inventiveness.
JZP: I do see that in your work, the desire to break out of the expected and push the medium of precious metals and stones into another dimension. Your work is avant-garde, even a little sci-fi. Who is your favorite artist?
Pino: M.C. Escher
JZP: I can totally see Escher in your aesthetic! You should do a bracelet or necklace inspired by Esher’s never-ending stairs! That would be such an amazing feat, the skill required would be awe-inspiring. Do you consider yourself a jeweler, designer or artist?
Pino: Definitely a Jewellery Designer.
JZP: What’s your creative process like? Do you plan pieces out, sketching and prepping or do you just jump in?
Pino: For me, the first step in creating a ring is to find a stone to portray the inspirational theme I want to explore. After cutting and polishing the stone, it is by holding it in my hand that the real construction begins in my mind. A few days later, I will start sketching the design on paper, and then doing some very basic drawings using Rhino 3D design software. These sketches and drawings helped me to brainstorm ideas and to see quickly the various possibilities. When I create new mechanisms, I usually build some prototypes, or little mockups, in silver before. However, sometime likes with the Magnificence Stellaire Ring, as soon as the design was clear in my mind, I built it directly. I was inspired!
JZP: Well we are all inspired by your jewelry Claudio, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. Claudio is showing his pieces at the Aaron Farber Gallery in NYC or you can contact him directly through his website.
Big Kiss and Bigger Diamonds,