Off the Chain: Philip Crangi Approves Jewelry by Hand

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Published April 6, 2010

Late Saturday afternoon, shoppers on the fifth floor of Bergdorf Goodman met an unfamiliar site amidst the racks of carefully combed-over clothing: an anvil—and one painted as a WWII fighter, no less. Beside it stood Philip Crangi, the grizzly bearded RISD-educated jewelry designer whose extensive tattoos and metallic ornamentation give him the appearance of Jack Sparrow marooned on the shores of Williamsburg. Honored as one of CFDA’s Best Designers in 2007, Crangi has designed for Phillip Lim, Shipley & Halmos, and Vera Wang (to name a few), but he and his anvil arrived to promote Giles & Brother, the costume jewelry line he founded in 2001 that features nut-and-bolt cufflinks, among other utilitarian inspired pieces. Waiting to stamp custom engravings into his work, Crangi offered some insight into his design philosophy. “For Giles & Brother, a lot of the pieces were inspired by a single theme. Many of them refer back to hardware,” he explained, gesturing to a brass railroad spike bracelet. Other references are Victorian or nautical, and generally familiar and open to interpretation. “And I like things that are handmade—all of our jewelry is still handmade here in Manhattan.” If you think it’s uncommon for an acclaimed designer to condescend to the shop floor for custom stamping, well… you’re probably right. But don’t feel too left out; the same service is available on the Giles & Brother website, and though you won’t have the pleasure of watching the goldsmith pound away at his anvil, the result will be just as great.