A Parisian Jeweler Uses Gems to Help Ocean Reefs


The French high jewelry designer Emmanuel Tarpin has long regarded nature as his leading source of inspiration, and earthbound elements — lush florals, curvaceous vines, winged insects — have been his main focus.

But his first philanthropic partnership has redirected his creative vision toward the marine environment. Mr. Tarpin has committed to selling several of his one-of-a-kind jewels to support the work of Coral Gardeners, a nongovernmental organization based in Moorea, French Polynesia, whose mission is to create a global movement to save coral reefs. An avid diver, he first heard of the organization from an instructor about a year ago.

In a recent video interview, he said 80 percent of the proceeds from jewels that evoke “the sea, the coral, the underwater universe” would go to Coral Gardeners. And, at least for now, he has not fixed the number of jewels to be sold.

“It’s a long-term relationship,” Mr. Tarpin said. “I want to do something significant.”

The first of the creations, introduced in September, was a jellyfish brooch composed of rock crystal, diamonds and titanium. Mr. Tarpin said that it would be followed soon by earrings in aluminum, gold and diamonds with an undulating form reminiscent of coral. And an asymmetrical pair of earrings that echoes the color gradient found in the Moorea lagoon and features a spectrum of sapphires, emeralds, Paraiba tourmalines and aquamarines is in the works, too.

As with all of Mr. Tarpin’s work, pieces are available only by appointment, and prices are given on application.

The designer said he had immersed himself in the partnership in every sense. In September, he traveled to the organization’s base of operations in French Polynesia and went on dives to its underwater coral nurseries.

Titouan Bernicot, Coral Gardeners’ founder and chief executive, has an affinity for the jewelry world. His parents were pearl farmers, and he grew up on a remote island in Moorea. From that close vantage, he has witnessed the deterioration of the coral reef, which led him to start the organization in 2017.

“The coral reef is the rainforest of the sea and home for a quarter of all the marine species we know,” Mr. Bernicot said in a video interview. “It has been on the planet for 400 million years, and in just 40 years, we have lost half of it.” To counteract the damage, the organization cultivates coral fragments, replants them and monitors their growth.

Coral Gardeners considers the collaboration with Mr. Tarpin to have come at a critical moment. “We have planted 30,000 corals back onto the damaged reef, and we are on the road to plant one million resilient corals all around the world before the end of 2025,” Mr. Bernicot said. “It’s time to scale up.” Locations in Fiji, Thailand, Indonesia and Puerto Rico are being planned.

Even those without a five-figure jewelry budget can contribute to the effort through the organization’s replanting program, which requires a minimum donation of $29. “Anyone can adopt a coral in our nursery,” Mr. Bernicot said.



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