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How French Designer Emmanuel Tarpin Is Turning High-End Jewelry into Contemporary Art

Each piece is valued not for the weight of its stones but for the entirety of its expressive design.

French jeweler Emmanuel Tarpin Di Messina

Emmanuel Tarpin is the new name to know in jewelry. At 26, the French jeweler doesn’t adhere to the conventional rules. Forging large-scale, sculptural designs in aluminum and gold that play with contrasting color and texture, he is creating a new language in high jewelry that is more like contemporary art: Each piece is valued not for the weight of its stones but for the entirety of its expressive design. “Color and sculpture have been my passion since childhood,” says Tarpin, who grew up in the French Alps and worked in Van Cleef & Arpels’s high-jewelry workshop for three years before starting his own collection in 2018. 

The young designer’s affinity for sculpture informs his large, imaginative jewelry designs. Inspired by British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, Tarpin spent more than a decade forging sculpture in a variety of mediums. “Kinetic sculptures and nature inspire my designs,” he says. His curiosity was further peaked when studying at HEAD, Geneva’s prestigious school for art and design, where he gained a deep appreciation for form, color and design. After honing his technical skills at Van Cleef, he was ready to start his own venture where he could freely express his sculptural concepts and play with designs, juxtaposing unexpected colors, textures and shapes in a single artistic expression. He collaborates closely with artisans in Paris to execute the voluminous yet remarkably lightweight, one-of-a-kind pieces.

His designs instantly resonated with the jewelry and fashion press who hailed him a breath of fresh air, but the big question is how will he manage the increased pressure to produce more than just a handful of pieces a year. “I take my time with each piece,” says the personable Tarpin. “I sketch each design, source the stones and work closely on every model.” Art requires patience. In his first year, Tarpin produced less than 20 designs. They’re worth the wait.


Emmanuel Tarpin Seashell earrings

Di Messina

Emmanuel Tarpin’s yellow-gold, black-aluminum and diamond Seashell earrings.

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