Claudio Pino’s Futuristic Jewelry
Complex, futuristic designs meet kinetics, in the world of Claudio Pino jewelry. In this interview, he reflects on his career, starting from childhood memories shared with his father, through his jewelry debut in blockbuster films, such as The Hunger Games. With all of his success, Pino preserves the soul of his work by holding to what has always inspired him– the beauty and spirit of people. Here is what he has to say about his success, inspiration, and ambition.
What inspired you to pursue jewelry design as a career?
In my childhood, I stood for hours quietly watching my father carving miniature wooden ships from scratch. For months, I anticipated how the raw materials would slowly take shape under my father’s hands. This was the beginning of a grand adventure enthralling me to transform raw materials into precious, portable objects. It’s a fascination with ancient history and the symbolic significance of jewels in different cultures that influenced my great passion for jewelry. The desire to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, while providing a contemporary touch, reflects the origin of my artistic research. I was about 15 years old when someone gave me the book Rings for the Finger by George Frederick Kunz (1917). This greatly influenced my current specialization. Making fine art jewelry permits me to express emotions and concepts, as well as to share them with others.
Can you tell us a bit about your trip to Egypt, and what you learned while you were there?
To deepen my knowledge on the history of engagement rings, I went to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which contains the largest collection of ancient Egyptian Jewelry in the world. I had the opportunity to see one of the first engagement rings, which was owned by Queen Aah-Hotep– the mother of Ahmose. Seeing the Pharaohs’ jewelry and meeting with well-known specialists allowed me to better understand ancestral techniques and customs, as well as to learn more about the symbolic importance and origin of the engagement ring. This research and creation project had a real impact on my artistic career. It is from this rich experience that I designed the Vena Amoris Collection.
As some may know, your jewelry has been featured in films, such as The Hunger Games. Can you tell us a bit about the experience of seeing your jewelry on the big screen?
[The breathtaking story] The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is such a big hit, and the movie pushed forward creativity bringing together so many artists in different fields. Seeing my sculptural rings on the big screen was such a great feeling! After over 20 years of being dedicated full-time exclusively to jewelry design, particularly to one-of-a-kind rings, this unique vitrine opens so many new doors. It is a dimension of the world of jewelry design that I did not have the opportunity to explore before. The outcomes are still today amazing! Since the large posters of famous character Caesar Flickerman (played by Stanley Tucci) wearing my rings went out, so many people have been asking me for custom rings in the same spirit of the one I designed for his character.
Can you tell us about the first-place award that you received back in 2009, the Steele Trophy Award? Tell us about the design that earned you this recognition.
Sure, this award is a key moment in my career, as it’s the higher [jewelry] prize in Canada. Receiving this
Trophy and being recognized by my peers was extremely rewarding and meaningful to me. For this award, I created a kinetic ring entitled Infinity, exploring weightlessness. A moonstone attached to the centre of a mechanism portrays a drop of water floating freely in space. Even though the stone is fixed in the middle, it is able to pivot 360 degrees in all 6 possible directions, which is represented by each movable ring.
Do you have a favorite piece in the collections you have created throughout the years?
Each of my jewelry designs brings me different forms of satisfaction. It could be on both conceptual and technical levels, as well as based on the emotional drive which the design can trigger in the public. As soon as a design is completed, I am continually searching for the next idea. I am always thinking about what the ultimate design could be! The journey on the road of creativity never stops. The transformation of raw materials into something portable is limited only by our imaginations.
What inspired you to pursue the technique of working with platinum, palladium, gold, Argentium, and silver with a futuristic look? When did you start creating pieces in this style? Can you tell us about your first work?
Since 1995, I have been dedicated exclusively to one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. I strive for originality and innovative expression. Whether exploring systems in motion, the metamorphosis of insects, or the pace of urban life; my passion first awakens in the transformation of the raw material. Each metal has its own properties, and I often juxtapose two metals together in a search for equilibrium within my asymmetric design. In fact, I never search for a futuristic look into my pieces, but everyone describes my art like this – which is fine with me. [Has] this come from my fascination with the world of Jules Verne? Films like Around the World in 80 Days (1956), are still today a source of inspiration to me.
The majority of your pieces are rings, can you tell us why that is?
Since 1995, I have been dedicated full time to create fine art jewelry, seeking to convey different emotions, always pushed forward my skills acquired while assuring a total comfort for wearers. Captivated by the deep relationship between rings and owners as well as their symbolism and history, I became a specialist in rings both sculptural and kinetic. Sometimes the set stones, thanks to tiny mechanisms, allow it to follow the movements of the body in multiple ways. In fact, rings are very personal and submerged in symbolic meaning. Often, people will refuse to go out, or even sleep, without their rings. I have been questioning what, then, makes a ring so powerful even in contemporary times? Of course, we cannot disregard our past if we are to understand why rings remain so important in our culture. From ancient Egypt to the 21st century, its rich history of thousands of years is intricate and fascinating. Rings endure as objects that have direct connections to our body language and serve as a reflection of one’s appearance and style; while recalling memories of our loved ones, unique moments, or representing victories… and their vintage surface projects its unmistakable power.
What is one of the most memorable things that have come by being a jewelry designer?
In Spring 2016, the famous costume designer Trish Summerville and her team reach me out to borrow my “lucite” pieces for the actress Abbey Lee– female lead role of Tirana in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. Summerville was interested in my collection entitled Cristalline. A collection composed of sculptural one-of-a-kind rings made of polycarbonate, which explores the theme of transparency in a literal and figurative sense. With high transparency and excellent resistance to impact and shock, this robust material is mainly used as anti-bullet ultimate protection, while having a fragile appearance, and a certain delicacy due to its clarity. Between light and shadow, each ring is a little poem that explores the transformation of an industrial material into small precious portable objects. In fact, this collection fits perfectly with the essence of the magnificent Tirana character, as she has an appearance of being fragile, delicate, full of light yet she is extremely strong and powerful! As soon as I received the invitation to collaborate, I read more about this character and created a ring especially for her. I was so excited and enthusiastic to create one piece especially for Tirana, inspired by her personality, and in the spirit of my collection Cristalline. In my career, I have to say that creating the ring especially for someone, inspired by her or his personality really keeps my creative flame alive since 1995! Still today, after over 20 years of full-time jeweler designer of one-of-a-kind of Contemporary Fine Art Jewelry pieces, human beings with dreams and personalities are my main source of inspiration – I make jewelry for them, inspired by them – It is a real passion for me! Each creation is for me a new challenge, evoking emotions, likes a small tableau that tells a story and can be wear!
How do feel about the concept of jewelry as an investment? How would you advise someone looking to buy your jewelry as an investment?
Well, I do consider my jewelry as artwork “fine art jewelry,” and the fact that each of my jewelry pieces is unique in the world – only one – and tell a story, yes it’s a good investment. Not only are the precious
metals and gemstones always good investments, but my work is like buying a painting or sculpture. From the concept to the drawing, the design to fabrication, to gemstones faceting and setting, I complete each step using an architectural approach, as if my miniature work was monumental sculpture. I strive to make my pieces interesting from all angles. My advice for someone that wants to buy a piece as an investment would be to contact me directly for a commissioned work. Whether they are looking for a design that will be classic or eccentric, minimalist or really complex, the opportunity to speak directly with the artist will allow developing something special for them or their beloved. On my side, I really love to have this kind of exchange with clients. I seek to create something that will be part of their history and will be handed down through future generations – a real good meaningful investment.
Where does your jewelry fit in the “North American” aesthetic? What do your US and Canadian customers look to you for, design-wise?
Well, I do prefer to believe that no standard is found in today’s jewelry field. For me, doors are open to so many horizons. That said, my rings are principally recognized by their extravaganza and sculptural characteristics. Each design is filled with details that tell stories through special symbols that are found all around each of the bands. Sometimes, the details are hidden inside the band or under the stone; and they are there exclusively for the owner to see and enjoy. Each of my jewelry designs portray a continuous seek for a unique combination of the physical attributes, sculptural portability and conceptual research, as well as a making of the body’s extension. It must feel extremely natural to the wearer, yet always different to the eyes of the observer. My customers will often contact me first by email and talk about the one they love, or themselves so I can make a [piece] especially for them related to their personality, and filled with symbols, details, stories that demonstrates their love, their passion, their personality—to create something that will be part of their history and will be handed down through future generations. I really love to have these kinds of exchange with the customers, it is always an honor to have that chance. Living in a world of mass production, people are looking for uniqueness. With my designs, I want to make this desire comes true.
Describe your relationship with your materials. What are you most drawn to working with?
This is a difficult question. I often juxtapose hot and cold colors together, such as Platinum and yellow gold, complemented with the fresh hue of white pearls– searching for balance and equilibrium in my jewelry designs. I do have a thing for diamonds, opals, rubies and pearls; however, each gemstone is unique and draws its own beauty. Each with different properties, rather physical, chemical, aesthetic and always finds means to amaze me. As a gemstone lover, I always try to define their own poetry and give tribute to their natural characteristics in my design.
Can you tell us about your most recent piece? What has inspired your most recent collection, or piece?
In 2000-2001, I was living and studying in New Mexico, USA. During my stay, I had the opportunity to visit Georgia O’Keeffe’s historic adobe home and studio. Since then, I became such a huge fan of her works. For years, I wanted to do a homage to my love for this artist. This is how I designed my most recent piece, a double sculptural ring inspired by the painting Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) | Sun Water Maine. This piece was part of an exhibit at New York City Jewelry Week, at the “The Art of the Ring: Revisited & Redefined” events presented by Mobilia Gallery. (Photo of the piece in the folder)
Is there anything that you would like our readers to be expecting from you, such as any new collections or pieces that are soon to be released?
Many exciting projects are on the road right now, which makes me overloaded but full of energy. One of these stimulating projects is that I was invited to exhibit a few of my kinetic rings at the Tellus Science in Museum in Cartersville, GA, USA, for the upcoming exhibit “Jewelry in the Space Age – International Juried Exhibition,” organized by the curator, Elyse Zorn Karlin. For this, I am creating new pieces inspired by the galaxies, a world in motion. Moreover, I am currently working new extravaganza pieces for a movie but I can’t tell more… it’s quite exciting.
To see more of Pino’s work, click on this link.