Tiffany & Company
The fine jewellery brand immortalised in film and more
Though the worldwide character of Tiffany & Co. requires little introduction, there are many aspects of this famous firm’s impressive history that didn’t quite make the cut for the film.
Charles Lewis Tiffany, the founder of the fabled jewellery company, was a man that liked to set the trends, not follow them. He founded Tiffany & Co. in 1837 (the iconic Tiffany Blue is registered as Pantone ‘1837 Blue’) and began his quest to bring gemstones to the attention of America’s highest jewellery clients. In 1848, he returned from Europe with white diamonds to lure his clientele; thirty years later, he wows these clients with a 287.42-carat fancy yellow diamond, which he has cut to 128.54 carats, still on display in the Tiffany flagship store today. In the next decade, he launches the Tiffany Setting: a six-claw ring on a simple and elegant band to hold these diamonds, rewriting the concept of the engagement ring. Arguably his biggest opportunity to set gemstones in pride of place came in 1887, when Charles was the largest buyer of the French Crown Jewels.
Charles’s love for gemstones drew the attention of rising gemmologist George F. Kunz, who, after selling Charles a beautiful tourmaline in 1876, became Tiffany’s Chief Gemmologist. In his role at Tiffany, Kunz had the freedom, respect and faith of Charles and his son Louis to source incredible stones from around the world. This respect was not only from within Tiffany: in 1903, the newly discovered pink beryl, kunzite, was named after Kunz. Championing American gemstones, Kunz ensured Tiffany’s connection with Montana sapphires, Maine tourmalines, and garnets and topazes from Utah.
As well as the gemstones, many leading creators have left their mark on Tiffany’s design legacy. Louis Comfort Tiffany, appointed as the company’s first official Design Director in 1902, paved the way for Tiffany’s lively and expressive jewels with his sinuous Art Nouveau creations. Jewellery design legend Jean Schlumberger followed suit with whimsical bejewelled sea creatures, later contrasted and complemented by the spare voluptuous aesthetic of Elsa Peretti’s 1970s designs. Following Paloma Picasso’s 1980s New York-inspired Graffiti collection, the company has continued to draw on its American roots whilst still setting records: its Fifth Avenue flagship has New York City’s oldest public clock, commissioned in 1853 by Charles, proudly above its entrance.