Arielle de Pinto makes cool jewels

Local jewellery designer Arielle de Pinto bridges DIY and haute fashion worlds with her much-copied crochet-chain designs.

Arielle de Pinto’s “Cha-Cha” duster and bracelet

“I developed a technique of crocheting chains, because I wasn’t that attracted to yarn,” says Arielle de Pinto. “When I developed a technique, it was an obvious path, to have a jewellery line, but it wasn’t anything that I had pre-planned.”

The local jewellery designer is describing the genesis of her eponymous label, which she’s been working on since 2007. De Pinto bridges the worlds of high fashion and DIY indie, making a big splash at fashion weeks and loaning pieces for high-profile magazine editorials, while still crafting smaller pieces for a more plebian price range.

Multi-coloured Web necklace by Arielle de Pinto.“My background is actually in printmaking,” she says. “I studied it at Concordia, and I was doing internships and stuff in New York in the summer and then [coming] back to Concordia. I got more into fibres, mostly because I wanted to do printing on fabrics and started to really want to be doing artists’ editions.”

De Pinto’s practice consists of crocheting bits of chain, knotting and weaving them together like a knitter. She experiments with new styles and elements by creating tapestries and wall-hangings, playing with the knots to forge new ways of draping and tying her jewellery pieces.

Because de Pinto’s technique is so unique, I would say it was inimitable — if it weren’t for her legions of copycats. “There are a lot of people copying,” she admits, “but I feel like I’m still ahead, just because I’m actually experimenting and they’re just kind of copying.

The constant innovation is merely a part of working with her chosen material, she explains.

String Fringe necklace by Arielle de Pinto.

“There’s a natural elasticity to a lot of fabric and yarn, but chain has nothing — it just has weight. So parts of it will be heavy and parts of it won’t; parts will be absolutely tight and parts will be really loose. I can’t really control — I can just manipulate. And that’s definitely a huge part of designing. And because there’s no guidebook — the only way I can figure out new patterns or new treatments is just by freeform crocheting, basically.”

De Pinto has been embraced by the world of high fashion, although she explains that she has no ambitions to do a solo clothing line. She has a few ongoing collaborations, including a line of crochet and foam shoes with European design LvMM, but thus far no complete clothing line.

“I have a lot of showpieces and clothing, but they’re more or less one of a kind. They’re quite expensive, so. And they’re pretty heavy. They’re not comfortable,” she says of her existing chain-woven garments. “In terms of doing a collection and pattern drafting and things like that, I would do it with somebody else. I have plenty of ideas and drawings and things, and I would love to do it, but it just has to be the right fit.” ■

 Check out more of De Pintos’ work in our Spring Forward fashion editorial. 

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