Jewelry designer Ariana Paoletti talks about design and inspiration.

EB: Tell me a bit about your background and how you got your start in fashion/design.

Ari: I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil (where my father is from) and raised in Buffalo, New York (where my mother is from)…art and imagination were always around me, my parents were forward-thinking, funky people and they always encouraged me to create things. A big box of fabrics and dress-up clothes from the thrift store was a staple of my playroom when I was young!

All through my teen years I was very involved in underground electronic music and the styles that went along with it…I was all about extreme looks with colored, undercut hair, black asymmetrical clothing and enormous platform boots.

In high school I started making jewelry for myself to wear out of colored plastic tubing, vacuum tubes and machine parts. I was always going for a futuristic, industrial feel and most of my materials early-on came from science surplus stores.

I went to school for New Media and Sculpture and I think that really helped me think about materials and now to manipulate and combine them. In college I was an enthusiastic clubber and occasionally a go-go dancer at Manray, a nightclub in Cambridge, MA. I was always creating pieces out of rubber sheeting to accent my dance outfits and this is when I started using LED lights in my looks as well.

EB: What inspires you?

Ari: I find most of my inspiration from science and technology, as well as architecture, industrial design and ancient culture.

I am very interested in how tribal designs and traditional adornments can look hyper-modern when presented in the right “colorway” or material.

About seven years ago I made a collar out of silicone tubing which was inspired by the Burmese women who extend their necks with metal rings. Stylist Jenni Hensler paired it with a Mugler dress in her Futura Memora film (above).

Photo credit: Martina Scorcucci, styled by Jenni Hensler

EB:  What are your aspirations within the jewelry design industry?

Ari: Up until now I have been making and selling jewelry in a relaxed, organic way. A few years ago I had my first and second collections of earrings, collars and charm bracelets at Love Brigade and Convent in New York and Rescue in Boston. It was encouraging to get support like that early on.

I am excited about the chainmaille, it is my first collection inspired by experiences living in New York and I feel I have taken a step forward as a designer. I think the chainmaille has the right combination of factors to grow into something more substantial. I would be thrilled to have a business making pieces for performers and fashion lovers and to be a part of editorial features!

EB:  What does your daily jewelry look involve?

Ari: I keep a box of ‘in current rotation’ jewelry right on my work desk for easy access and visual inspiration. I have a pair of black anodized aluminum cuffs which are hexagonal and very cyber looking, stamped 1988. I found them at an antiques store in Buffalo when I was 17.

I also have a 2″ long pyrite stone carved like a brutalist arrowhead on a long silver chain which I’ve been wearing every day since I put it together a month ago.

When I was at art school my roommate made me a ring with a 1/4″ cube of solid silver as the stone. At the time I dubbed it my wedding ring to technology and wore it on my ring finger religiously. I still wear it now, but paired with a geometric wood ring in black lacquer; a miniature homage to Isamu Noguchi.

EB: What are you currently working on?

Photo credit: Hadar (

Ari: Right now I am focused on coming out with new chainmaille pieces. I have a wide collar which will be ready soon! Also more customized headpieces and a new leather strap for my shield necklace. I have also started working with performers, creating custom looks for performances, which I really enjoy!