“My background is in painting and sculpture,” says Tara Elwin, the designer of New York jewellery brand Tara 4779.
She attended the University of New Orleans, but later continued her studies in France, the Czech Republic, Greece and Italy: “I felt like it was important to experience European art in person, not just in a book,” she recalls. After several years working in the gallery world, Tara returned to her love of creating. “In New York, space is very limited – I found that jewellery was an easy way to express myself on a miniature scale, like miniature sculpture.” Her pieces are formed with recycled silver and gold, and conflict-free diamonds and gemstones – the look is “Conceptual, minimal and thoughtful.”
The initial designs are formed not by sketching, but by playing with materials in the studio.
Tara always starts with an idea or feeling: the Negative Space collection was inspired by the concept of the void, while the ARC collection is an homage to the artist Alexander Calder.
“First I source the material that I need, and then I cut it to the right dimensions, mould it and solder it,” says Tara. It then goes into a vat of acid known as “the pickle”, which removes any discoloured or burnt surfaces on the metal.
The piece is then moulded a little more into shape – rings are formed on a mandrel – and polished. Finally, any stones are set in place.
“I try to be thoughtful and conscious in my choice of materials – but I still want the jewellery to be luxurious. It’s not like granola!”Tara 4779