Goro Takahashi (1939-2013) was a self-taught silver craftsman, who first embarked on his creative journey during high school, learning leather carving from U.S. troops in Occupied Japan. Today, he’s better known as the mastermind behind Goro’s jewellery, a favourite of celebrities around the world. But what’s most interesting about Goro’s, perhaps, is just how Takahashi himself evolved from humble beginnings as a small-town artisan to become the head of one of Japan’s best-known jewellery brands.
An American soldier gifted Takahashi a set of leather carving tools at the end of the Occupation. Through further exploration and self-teaching of the craft, he opened his first shop in Aoyama at the age of 27 in 1956. Seeking further inspiration, he travelled to the United States, where Native Americans taught him the art of silver engraving. Takahashi reportedly grew particularly close to the Lakota tribe and even became the first non-member of the tribe to participate in their sacred “Sun Dance” ritual. He was eventually bestowed the name “Yellow Eagle,” an honour rarely granted to an individual outside the tribe.
Returning to Japan in 1966, Takahashi relocated his shop to Harajuku, where his Native American-influenced designs gained recognition among collectors of silver jewellery. They garnered a cult following, including local celebrity fans like Takuya Kimura and Hiroshi Fujiwara. Eventually, his name would become known worldwide, and today his brand counts stars like Eric Clapton, Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, G-Dragon, Shawn Yue and JJ Lin among its international fans.
Silver as art
Renowned for his exceptional craftsmanship, Takahashi’s creations have become highly sought after, appreciated as both art and investment pieces, with design inspirations primarily based on eagle iconography. These pieces include bracelets, charms, necklaces, as well as bags and belts embellished with handcrafted silverware. Given that each item is strictly handmade, every detail resulting from Takahashi’s meticulous craftsmanship is clearly visible, including engraved lines that vary in depth and length. Every single creation from Takahashi is unique, a testament to his unwavering passion for and dedication to his craft.
Considering himself a silver artist, Takahashi once said, “Silverware possesses a soul of its own – something invaluable that money cannot buy. Similarly, human relationships should mirror this serendipitous encounter, where the connection is profound and meaningful, akin to discovering the perfect piece of silver jewellery.” He believed that each customer should have a certain level of respect and understanding of his creations before they could actually be allowed to purchase them.
After his passing in 2013, the spirit and legacy of Takahashi continues to live on through his children and trusted apprentices, who to this day reproduce by hand his most emblematic creations, with the utmost meticulousness. While his name may not be widely known beyond the Japanese fashion and street scenes, he still commands unwavering respect among his peers.
A lottery for highly elusive creations
Purchasing a piece of Goro’s jewellery is an adventure in itself. There is only one Goro’s boutique in the world, which is situated in Omotesando-dori, Tokyo, the same address where Takahashi first set up shop in 1972. Legend has it that getting into Goro’s boutique is even more challenging than getting into a Supreme shop on a product release day. To begin with, the store works based on a calendar that allows customers to visit the store based on their birth month and city of residence, and first-time purchasers only have access on certain days of the year. On the morning of each opening day, potential customers first have to queue for a lottery ticket, and only the winners are then able to join another queue to enter the shop when it officially opens in the afternoon. Whether one is eligible to purchase a creation of Goro’s is another story.
When Takahashi was still alive, he would mingle with the customers and determine whether they were compatible with his jewellery before selling it to them. The staff at Goro’s continue this practice to this day, and according to some die-hard fans, it could take several visits to the boutique before one actually gets to acquire a piece of Goro’s jewellery – making the feeling of finally buying and owning your dream piece nothing short of exhilarating.
Goro’s jewellery in Singapore
Intrigued? Without going through the hassle of joining the infamous queue in Tokyo and leaving it to lady luck, you can now purchase a rare work of silver art by Goro Takahashi right here in Singapore with the official opening of DELTAone’s first Southeast Asian boutique at Mandarin Gallery. With seven retail outlets already spanning Japan and Hong Kong, DELTAone is a well-known and trusted purveyor of pre-loved Goro’s jewellery. They reportedly have one of the largest inventories of Takahashi’s creations, backed with a specialised authentication process that guarantees the provenance of each piece. If you’re new to Goro’s creations, the store at Mandarin Gallery also provides personalised consultation services for those interested in starting their own collection.
This article was originally published in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore.