gucci gabby elan grillz

MEET GABBY ELAN: THE GODFATHER OF GRILLZ

MEET GABBY ELAN: THE GODFATHER OF GRILLZ

by Stella Hughes
6 min
gucci gabby elan grillz
Gucci ©

Gabby Elan is the NYC-based brand founded in 1991 making celebrities’ favoured grillz. Run by jeweller and city legend Gabby Pinhasov and his son Elan, the studio has been supplying some of the biggest names in music with grillz since the 90s, after spotting their popularity and concentrating on producing bespoke, high-quality grillz since then.

Initially operating from a stall in a Brooklyn mall, due to the gentrification of the area, they relocated to Manhattan’s diamond district, where they continue to operate today. Fans of the jewelling duo are wide ranging: everyone from Heidi Klum to the repeat customers of Kim Kardashian, A$AP Rocky, and Pharrell all want in on Gabby Elan’s expertise.

And, despite the rise in mask-wearing, Gabby Elan is more popular than ever – producing custom grillz alongside their other jewellery at an ever-increasing rate. We caught up with them to chat about the creative process behind designing grillz, their family influence and advice to those wanting to break into the jewellery industry.

Firstly, thanks so much for speaking with us, and I hope you’re well! You’ve been making jewellery for three decades now which is amazing – can you run us through your background and how you got started in jewelry?
My father Gabby started making grillz in 1990 when he immigrated to NYC from Israel. He was a dental technician before the move, and as he came here it was tough to go back to school with a brand new language at his age, and he saw that gold teeth were quite a trend at the time, he saw an opportunity. The process was fairly the same as his practice so he gave it a try and thankfully it turned out quite successful. I started helping my father more recently, a few years in our former downtown Brooklyn storefront location, and became fully active once we relocated to Manhattan’s Diamond District. 

From that, were you always interested in designing? Or was this something you honed at a later stage?
From a young age I was always intrigued about what my father did. I thought it was the most unique and interesting job. Once I started with jewellery I really enjoyed it, but when I started out everything was sort of basic. Designing customs was something that interested me more than just selling things off the rack. Slowly the opportunity to create unique masterpieces arose with our clients trusting us and allowing us to have full control on their projects. 

What’s one of the unexpected challenges in your line of work?
In our line of work, our biggest challenge is trying to figure out how to make everything small. Scaling things down over 100x and making it fit comfortably on a tooth is way harder than you can think.

Your pieces are both complex and intricate designs and yet still prioritise being functional / wearable. Can you talk a bit about this central concern?
We’ve seen so many nice grillz done by other artists, but the concern that comes to our minds each time is if the set is comfortable to wear, or is it even practical? As grillz artists, our product goes farthest when the client wears it and smiles, showing off our work. If its something made just to wear once and keep it stashed in a drawer, we see no point in making it. All our orders are made to our best ability whether it’s regarding the fit or the quality. We have returning clients after decades who just come for polishes and slight maintenance, and they comfortably wear their sets on a regular basis.

Can you guide us through your creative process?
The process for the client is simple. They come in, or send us a mould. Once we have the mould we discuss designs and placement of the teeth, followed by pricing. Once that is finalised, we hand wax the framework of the teeth and then get it casted into gold. After cleaning the casting and pre-polishing, we add other details necessary for the order. Whether its diamond setting, engraving, 3D cad designing, or hand painting in enamel, we have a small team of professionals that we work with to help us achieve an ideal product. Each step of the product takes a few days or even weeks to work on. Simple orders can be done in 2-7 days, while more intricate orders can take anywhere from 1-5 months to complete, depending on its complexity.

Your brand has been supported and sported by some famous faces including Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Rocky and Pharrell which is great – can you talk us through how these projects came to be?
My father has had fairly impressive clientele since I was in diapers. He has done grillz for celebs such as Pharrell, Wu Tang, Heidi Klum, etc ever since the late 90’s and early 2000’s. As the times went on, word of mouth spread and friends of these clients came, newer and newer faces emerged in the scene too. Slowly more celebrities began coming to us, and the biggest surge has been since we moved to the Diamond District, as more possibilities opened up, allowing for even crazier projects for the biggest names. With the help of social media, specifically Instagram, we are able to showcase our work to a much broader audience worldwide as opposed to the “if you know you know” referral basis it used to be.

From that, do you have a dream collaboration (either person or brand) or are you focused on your own established aesthetic?
 I used to want to collaborate with brands, but as we grew I realised that the reason for our success is for the unusual work we do and the fact that it hasn’t been seen before. I’d rather focus on our own image, come up with our own designs and grow as an established household brand ourselves. Our attention to detail is at the same level as some of the biggest brands, if we got this far I don’t see why we should stop at just grillz. Hopefully we can be a go to spot for celebrities and all their jewellery needs.

If you had to offer a piece of advice to those trying to break the jewellery industry, what would it be?
My advice to the startup jewellers and newer faces in the industry is to steer away from the waves and stay original. There’s a lot of people looking at others as a guide to success but there’s plenty of space for everyone to thrive while doing your own thing. As long as you can offer something new, something out of the ordinary, you will always attract an audience.

Lastly, a quickfire: your three favourite spots in NYC?
My favourite spots in NYC to hang out are Soho, Meatpacking and of course the Diamond District and all its endless finds. 

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