Designer Spotlight

A Visit to Taffin by James de Givenchy

Taffin Jewels Cover

Too many times I have been told to visit the salon of Taffin by James de Givenchy, and last week I finally got see what all the fuss was about. Situated on Fifth Avenue in the heart of Midtown’s shopping mecca, the jewelry by James de Givenchy is beautifully displayed in a showroom whose curated interior looks as if straight from the pages of Architectural Digest.

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James de Givenchy, the man behind Taffin jewelry

The man behind Taffin is, of course, Mr. de Givency. Born and raised in France, it’s no surprise that the talented designer knows a thing or two about style: he is the nephew of the famous fashion designer Hubert James Taffin de Givenchy. After moving to New York in the early 1980s, de Givenchy worked at Christie’s and later at Verdura before striking out on his own in 1996. For the past 18 years, de Givenchy has quietly carved his own niche in the world of contemporary jewelry with his sculptural designs, fine craftsmanship and wisps of jeweled whimsy.

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A Charles Sévigny lacquer desk covered in curios like vintage cigarette cases at the Taffin by James de Givenchy salon
Photo by Nicholas Calcott

As soon as you enter his appointment-only salon, you get an immediate sense of the man behind the brand. Blessed with an innate sense of style, the salon showcases not only his stunning jewels but a bounty of his favorite objects, all perfectly placed and harmoniously balanced throughout the space. Capsule collections of curios are scattered throughout, among them a series of vintage cigarette cases lies on a desk amongst black and white family photographs and other objets; old fitted jewelry boxes, whose once vivid leather appears to have faded with age, surround a box of Taffin watches on a windowsill; a glass case containing four miniature sculptures of steel trees by Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David rests unassumingly on a ledge near the floor; and a large pot sits aimlessly in a corner, containing three ivory-hued ostrich eggs. The large open room exudes a zen-like quality, a peaceful escape from the busy streets of New York not far below.

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At the showroom, large lacquer forms serve as display cases.
Photo by Nicholas Calcott

De Givenchy’s innate sense of style and meticulous attention to detail is best seen in his jewelry, however. From start to finish, each step receives the highest level of thoughtful care and craftsmanship, beginning with a sketch rendered to scale. The final sketch then makes its way to de Givenchy’s workshop a few blocks away, where the designer spends much of his time in between appointments. In order for the finished jewel to appear exactly as he originally envisioned it, de Givenchy remains highly involved throughout the creation process.

Taffin sketching

One piece in particular, a kunzite, copper and gold flower brooch, took an irritatingly three months to make due to the precise coloring of the patinated copper. “You cannot rush the process because it takes time to happen naturally,” de Givenchy admits. A floral brooch imbuing a suggestive, feminine mystique, the resulting jewel was well worth the wait.

Taffin Flower Brooch

My friend modeling the finished flower brooch

While it is difficult to pinpoint a cohesive aesthetic from one piece to the next, the common thread of de Givenchy’s work is de Givenchy himself. Whether a seriously bold cocktail ring of a fresh, young design or a pair of playful flower brooches radiant with vivid color, the jewelry by de Givenchy shares a youthful spirit, a sense of vanguard ingenuity, that brings a new dimension to jewelry design today.

Taffin Spider Brooch

Australian opal, spinel, diamond and multi-colored stone “Spider” brooch by Taffin by James de Givenchy

 More recently, de Givenchy has teamed with Fonderie 47, the company that removes AK47s from war zones and transforms them into rare jewelry and accessories, to create the Phoenix Collection. The concept began with an egg made of overlapping swatches of steel studded with reverse-set diamonds, a symbol of budding possibility, fundamental beauty, and the potential for rebirth.

Taffin Fonderie Egg

Fonderie 47 Steel, Diamond and 18K Rose Gold “Egg” by James de Givenchy

“I believe that I was destined to make this collection for Fonderie 47; The Phoenix Collection is at once whimsical, cheerful, and powerful. It embodies rebirth and thus is revolutionary in the proper sense of the word,” said James de Givenchy. “I would like the wearer to feel how they are agents of the change that will be made.”

Fonderie 47 Steel, Diamond, 18K Rose Gold and Platinum Ear Pendants by James de Givenchy

Fonderie 47 Steel, Diamond, 18K Rose Gold and Platinum Ear Pendants by James de Givenchy

The limited edition pieces, which include a necklace, earrings, rings and bracelets, are crafted from AK47 steel, sustainably-sourced 18 karat rose gold and platinum, and conflict-free diamonds in Givenchy’s New York City studio.

Taffin Flowers

A group of flowers by Taffin by James de Givenchy, clockwise from the top: Demantoid Garnet, Tsavorite Garnet, Diamond and 18K Yellow Gold Earclips;
Pair of Amethyst, Rhodochrosite and Platinum “Flower” Brooches; and
Moonstone, Spinel, Tsavorite Garnet, 18K Yellow Gold and 18K Rose Gold “Flower” Pins

Often referred to as the James Bond of the jewelry world, the devilishly handsome jeweler continues to operate under the radar, discreetly serving his throng of devoted collectors and patrons with his increasingly inventive and youth-infused jewels.

Taffin Flying Pig Brooch

A carved ivory and pebble “When Pigs Fly” brooch by James de Givenchy

Blue Sapphire, Multicolor Spinel and Platinum Earclips by James de Givenchy

Blue Sapphire, Multicolor Spinel and Platinum Earclips by James de Givenchy

A whimsical ring with pink spinels set into rock crystal

A whimsical ring with pink sapphires set into rock crystal by James de Givenchy

Oval Spinel, Mandarin Garnet, 18K Yellow Gold and Steel Bracelet

Oval Spinel, Mandarin Garnet, 18K Yellow Gold and Steel Bracelet by James de Givenchy

A pair of large amethyst and demantoid garnet earrings by James de Givenchy

A pair of large amethyst and demantoid garnet earrings by James de Givenchy

Sugarloaf Cabochon Emerald, Bakelite and 18K Yellow Gold Ring by James de Givenchy

Sugarloaf Cabochon Emerald, Bakelite and 18K Yellow Gold Ring by James de Givenchy

Taffin Angel Brooch

A whimsical angel brooch with a sapphire halo by James de Givenchy

Fonderie 47 Steel, Diamond and 18K Rose Gold Bracelet by James de Givenchy

Fonderie 47 Steel, Diamond and 18K Rose Gold Bracelet by James de Givenchy

Fancy White Emerald Cut Diamond, Black Jade, Black Ceramic, Platinum and 18K Rose Gold Ring by James de Givenchy

Fancy White Emerald Cut Diamond, Black Jade, Black Ceramic, Platinum and 18K Rose Gold Ring by James de Givenchy

Amethyst, Turquoise and 18K Yellow Gold "Flower" Earclips by James de Givenchy

Amethyst, Turquoise and 18K Yellow Gold “Flower” Earclips by James de Givenchy

More jewels by James de Givenchy

More jewels by James de Givenchy

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    lisa susanto
    April 8, 2014 at 2:50 am

    Amazing designs. when it is natural theme, their design is fantastic but when it’s modern, just so so.

  • Reply
    Usman Latif Khawaja
    April 8, 2014 at 4:32 am

    .the collection is confusing it hovers from here to there and seems to reflect individual tastes like custom made designer jewellery except it is not -i would prefer to have it made to order

  • Reply
    Robin Katz
    April 8, 2014 at 7:03 am

    I am in love with the Kunzite flower brooch. Its feminine form with its gentle curves is simply glorious. The steel and diamond cuff for Fonderie 47 is equally as strong by appealing to the masculine inside the feminine. De Givenchy is truly a master and artfully fills a space within the world of fine jewelry that would be sadly void without him.

    • Reply
      doron isaak
      April 24, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      very eloquent comment,you sure have a way with words!

  • Reply
    Goleh
    April 9, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I have always been an avid fan of his beautiful rings but getting access to pictures of his works is almost always impossible. I loved the emerald cut diamond with black jade, ceramic and platinum. Another impeccable post as usual!

  • Reply
    Catherine Rigoux
    March 13, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    Thank you for the tip .The boutique the jewelry it is definetly a address to keep.Very elegant and chic.

  • Reply
    christopher walling
    April 17, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    these are works of genius and – coming from another jewelry designer – you have to know that not only do i mean it but that it is true. to those nay-sayers (!) here: do better and then talk. christopher walling.

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