James de Givenchy operating under the name of his firm Taffin, is creating the most impressive contemporary jewelry anywhere in the world. Givenchy’s use of gemstones and unexpected materials take his jewelry into the next century. He is quite simply, the master of design. De Givenchy grew up in Beauvais, France, a suburb of Paris where the Parfums Givenchy has its factory. Yes, he is from that family. His Father, Jean Claude Taffin de Givenchy and his uncle, Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy, (the famous fashion designer) were both born there. Taffin as you can see, is a family name.
James De Givenchy moved to New York in the early 1980s to pursue his studies and his dreams. He received a Fine Arts degree from Manhattanville College and an associate degree in graphic design from F.I.T. He joined Christie’s auction house, ultimately running the West Coast Jewelry Department between 1991 and 1994. After he left Christie’s, he went to work for Verdura eventually starting his own business Taffin, in 1996 based in Manhattan.
You can see the influence of both Verdura and Schlumberger in his work. He cites Suzanne Belperron, Rene Boivin and Jeanne Toussaint as key influences.
De Givenchy took an interesting turn from 2008 to 2011 as creative director for Sotheby’s Diamonds. He created really unique combinations of materials and diamonds that had never been seen before in the haute couture salons of fine jewelry. Of using gunmetal and rubber in the collection for Sotheby’s he says “that was a real no no, some people actually got offended”.
“I’ve always been attracted to drawing,” say De Givenchy, who flirted with becoming an artist before stints at Christie’s and Verdura helped him settle on jewelry. His obsession with the details of construction are what have drawn to use the unexpected materials other jewelers would never touch. “You can’t avoid the physics, it has to fit and it has to be solid enough to be be worn”.
In 2009, Taffin launched a limited edition series of men’s wristwatches.
Most Taffin pieces are one of a kind. His designs take my breath away.
Taffin amethyst and turquoise flowerhead earrings, photo courtesy of Taffin.
Taffin gold, steel, sapphire and spinel earrings, photo courtesy of W Magazine.
Taffin carved jade and sapphire earrings, photo courtesy of Taffin.
Taffin Poniatowski agate cameo, diamond and sapphire necklace, photo courtesy of Taffin.
James de Givenchy for Sotheby’s Diamonds, a bracelet using colored diamonds, platinum and rubber, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s Diamonds.
James de Givenchy for Sotheby’s Diamonds, “button” necklace using diamonds, rubber and platinum, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s Diamonds.
James de Givenchy for Sotheby’s Diamonds, a “flower”necklace using platinum, gold, steel, diamonds and pink sapphires, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s Diamonds.
James de Givenchy for Sotheby’s Diamonds, a candy shank ring using an emerald cut diamond and demantoid garnets, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s Diamonds.
James de Givenchy for Sotheby’s Diamonds, a candy shank ring using a fancy intense yellow diamond and a red spinel shank, photo courtesy of Sotheby’s Diamonds.
Is that not the goal of every artist, to push boundaries and seek new horizons?
I want the rubber “button” necklace with 16.45 carats of diamonds. How about you? What do you think about his designs?