Anyone who’s familiar with Emmanuel Tarpin knows that his spectacular jewelry creations are inspired by flora and fauna whether it’s on land or sea. This is based on his lifelong passions of hiking in the French Alps where he was born and raised, and deep-sea diving throughout the world.
The celebrated artist is now combining his passions for high jewelry and the environment by creating a one-of-a-kind jewel and donating a significant portion of the proceeds to Coral Gardeners, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) dedicated to preserving and regenerating the coral reefs off the coast of the island of Mo’orea in French Polynesia.
For this project, Tarpin has created a Jellyfish Brooch with the sculptural forms and textured finishes that define his work. The bell of the creature is made of hand-carved rock crystal with a translucent quality that exhibits a fluorescent glow when exposed to light. The tentacles and oral arms are made of titanium paved with diamonds presenting a sparkle that complements the luminous glow of the bell. The piece exhibits the fluidity and movement of a live jellyfish.
“Since childhood, I’ve always liked jellyfish. It’s something we normally don’t see in jewelry because it’s uncanny looking, but it’s mesmerizing because of its elegant movements. This piece of jewelry reflects this movement,” the 30-year-old high jewelry artist says. “Diving is a true passion. The life under the sea is another world, full of colors and textures, which always fascinates me. I remember the first time I was stung by a jellyfish. I felt the pain of course but I was also mesmerized by the beauty of this animal. Its movement, transparency and natural elegance. This brooch is my way to represent the beauty of the jellyfish.”
He adds, “You usually don’t want to touch a jellyfish, but with this one you know it’s safe.”
The Warming Seas
It is estimated that around 75% of the world’s coral reefs are facing threats from pollution, overfishing and global warming. Coral reefs around the world have already declined by 30% to 50% since the 1980s. While covering less than 1% of the earth’s surface and less than 2% of the ocean bottom, these animals (yes coral is an animal) house about 25% of all marine life on earth. The decline of coral reefs certainly affects the fish and other sea animals, but it is also detrimental to humans and the global ecosystem. They protect coastlines, produce oxygen, provide food and support the livelihoods of millions of people.
Tarpin says preserving coral reefs is an issue of vital importance. Coral Gardeners was founded five years ago by Titouan Bernicot, a native of French Polynesia. As the name suggests, the organization grows coral in a group of underwater nurseries the same way one would grow plants and vegetables on land. Once they reach a certain level of maturity, divers attach the new coral onto the damaged reefs.
To date, Coral Gardeners has planted over 24,500 corals and they have set the goal to plant 1 million corals around the world by 2025. Their aim is to recreate the foundation of coral reefs which are one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet.
Tarpin, a world class diver, has visited this organization to help them in a volunteer capacity and decided it was time to help them financially while creating awareness for the work they do.
“As nature is my inspiration, I’m able to help them in a physical way because I’m always very curious about how they work and their process. I wanted to create a link between my two passions: jewelry and nature. The idea is to create a one-of-a-kind high jewelry piece with most of the benefits to go directly to the association to help them in their work. A piece inspired by the sea.”
The Bejeweled Jellyfish is Just the Beginning
The importance of this jewel being sold to benefit Coral Gardeners and the months of work into its creation can’t be underestimated. At the age of 25, just five years ago, Tarpin made an immediate mark onto the high jewelry world with the successful public auction of his first creation, a pair of Geranium Leaf aluminum earrings. Since then, Tarpin and his creations have been in great demand by collectors throughout the world.
Tarpin, who spends much of his time commuting between Paris and New York, produces a limited number of one-of-a-kind high jewelry creations each year. He does the drawings and selects the gems for each piece. Each handcrafted item takes several months to produce and are sold by appointment to clients who follow his work. To maintain authenticity and to ensure that the relationship will continue after the sale of this piece, Tarpin and the representatives of Coral Gardeners decided that the jellyfish will be sold the same way.
“I didn’t want to create a collection that I will present at a moment during one dinner. I wanted more. I was looking for a long-term relationship,” he says. “I don’t have the number right now, but I will create several pieces and step-by-step use this to begin a long-term relationship.”
Tarpin is currently in Tahiti showing his completed jellyfish to the members of Coral Gardeners. It will then be presented to his clients.
Not only will this be a long-term commitment with the organization, but Tarpin says he is expanding this model to other places as well. During his trip in Tahiti he will personally visit the ecological pearl farms. For his next project, he will go to Mexico to visit the country’s opal mines. The focus of these trips is to receive a first-hand look into the process for gathering raw materials as a way for Tarpin to enhance his art as well as bring attention and financial assistance to those who gather these materials for their livelihood.
“I want to become fully immersed in the process of creating jewels, and I want to communicate this process in my pieces,” Tarpin says. “I want to be close to the people and the work they do, which make my creations possible. Each jewel I create reflects who I am as a person. Each of these experiences will add layers of depth to my work.”
He continues, “At the same time I want to be involved in projects that can help create a more environmentally sustainable world. I feel as an artist and an environmentalist it is my duty to do this.”
For more information visit the Coral Gardeners website.