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Andrea Tello

Ancient filigree techniques in the hands of a young master

Third-generation Ecuadorian jeweler Andrea Tello gathers inspiration for her often playfully designed—and structurally phenomenal—jewelry from the patterns found on traditional Andean women’s clothing. Each piece of jewelry is not only aesthetically beautiful, but also representative of the history, culture, and heritage of Ecuador.

Tello lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, where she has made a name for herself with fine silver filigree items as arrestingly lovely as they are whimsical; the jeweler often gathers inspiration from the vibrant community within which she lives, as well as the great outdoors. Spindly legged beetles, for example, are fodder for brooches; earrings are fashioned to resemble jungle orchids, or dragonflies with wings so fine they look like lace. Each creation is painstakingly forged in high quality silver, using a filigree technique that takes years of diligent study to master.

Tello exclusively works in pure silver (which she gets from a mine several hours from her home in Cuenca) to make her pieces, and her tools are ingeniously reconfigured from old computers and printers. The technique of filigree is based on very fine silver thread forms, which must be twisted carefully by hand to form a flat, tightly “knit” metal embroidery. According to generations of tradition, everything is handmade, from the very first sketches to the sourcing of materials and technical application.  “I do my work with passion, so my designs always tell you a story of everyday life in Latin America and Ecuador,” says the artist. “Through my art, I hope to maintain the legacy and spirit of Ecuador and to keep the roots of my beloved Andean culture alive.”