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Fashion / Style File

The Givenchy of Jewels

This Diamond Master is Quietly Building an Empire

BY // 11.03.16

When your uncle is fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy and you’re reared in the picturesque French town of Beauvais, impeccable style and an eye for fine design are in your blood.

Such was the milieu in which James Taffin de Givenchy came of age before moving to New York to study graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and later working for Christie’s in the auction house’s jewelry department.

It wasn’t long before de Givenchy followed in his uncle’s footsteps and launched his own collection — but rather than couture garments, his eye was focused on precious jewels. Taffin, which debuted as a private salon in New York, is known for its custom, commissioned jewelry that pairs unexpected colored stones with materials such as rubber, ceramic, even recycled AK-47 steel.

For de Givenchy, diamonds, peridots, sapphires, Mandarin garnets, coral, and spinels are the preferred gems, and with them he creates stunning couture jewels for collectors around the world.

Taffin tourmaline and Mexican fire opal brooch
Taffin tourmaline and Mexican fire opal brooch

De Givenchy’s list of projects is lengthy: He was creative director for Sotheby’s Diamonds and created a 180-piece collection of jewels for the auction house; he recently launched his first collection of timepieces with one design for women, and another for men; and he collaborated with Barneys New York in 2011 on a Taffin Home Fragrance collection of candles ensconced in Bakelite containers.

Today, Taffin is headquartered on New York’s Madison Avenue — a studio and manufacturer in one that’s as well-designed as the jewelry it houses. The mix of Louis XIV-style rosewood and contemporary sculpture within the space mirrors the striking juxtaposition of jewels in his designs. It’s the singular place where de Givenchy’s work can be purchased and commissioned.

This month, de Givenchy takes temporary leave of his Manhattan environs to debut his latest work — one more fit for chic coffee tables. Taffin: The Jewelry of James de Givenchy (Rizzoli) is a jewel box all its own, with 350 photographs of his wildly eye-catching jewels.

With contributions from art auctioneer Tobias Meyer, essayist Stephanie LaCava, and de Givenchy’s uncle, Hubert de Givenchy, this tome — much like the master designer’s jewels — is far more than eye candy.

James Taffin de Givenchy will sign his bew book Taffin: The Jewelry of James de Givenchy ($150, Rizzoli) Wednesday, November 9, at Ann Mashburn in Dallas, from 11 am to 2 pm. 3319 Knox St., 214.443.6100.

Home, chic home.

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