The Brand We All Know and Love
A 1920s Tiffany pearl necklace from the Jogani collection
It’s time to talk about one of my favorite jewelry brands: Tiffany & Co.!
Everyone knows the iconic blue box; the ubiquitous sterling silver jewelry. Everyone knows the company’s prominence as a producer of diamond engagement rings. But what I love the most about this company is its history, its staying power, and its position as a style leader throughout some of my favorite eras of fine jewelry design. Let's take a look at the company's beginnings...
History and Origins
Tiffany & Co. was founded in 1837 in New York City and was originally styled as a “stationary and fancy goods store”. The firm quickly transitioned into a jewelry producer, first making a name for its fine silver pieces and eventually adding diamonds and other precious stones to its repertoire.
Discovered in 1878, the Tiffany Diamond was, in the rough, a 287-carat fancy yellow stone. The company’s chief gemologist, George Kunz, who was only 23 years old at the time, daringly cut the stone into a 128 carat cushion with an unorthodox 82 facets. This diamond helped Tiffany & Co. make a serious name for itself as a purveyor of high jewelry, rivaling that of any house in the world. To this day, the Tiffany Diamond is one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered.
Audrey Hepburn wearing the famous Tiffany Diamond in 1961 (photo source: People.com)
Tiffany Art Deco Jewelry
Tiffany & Co. was a leader among high jewelers throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The company produced brilliant art nouveau pieces during the period between 1890 and the 1910s, and likewise creating stunning Art Deco pieces in the 1920s and 1930s that are among my favorite pieces to hunt for today. In fact, the Art Deco era is responsible for some of Tiffany’s most enduring and iconic work, and signed Tiffany jewels from that time are among the most sought after examples of antique jewelry.
The Tiffany Solitaire Setting
Tiffany & Co. was also responsible for changing the way diamonds are mounted, moving stones out from their traditional, deep bezel settings and into a clawed or pronged setting that leaves more of the stone visible. This new type of setting became known as the “Tiffany setting” and greatly increased the amount of fire and life exhibited by a diamond. Unsurprisingly, the company has fought hard to maintain its control over the phrase “Tiffany setting” as a trademark, even as the style’s popularity has threatened to make the term apply to rings from any maker. Amazingly, the innovation dates back to 1886!
The trademarked Tiffany® setting (photo source: Tiffany.com)
What else is there to say? I could write volumes about this company, its history, and its noteworthy designs and accomplishments. In the end, though, it all really boils down to this this: Tiffany & Co. squarely established itself as a heavy hitter in fine jewelry over 150 years ago and has not relinquished that status since.
Anyone who reads this blog knows my love affair with fine Art Deco pieces, and that’s where the company really holds a place in my heart. Tiffany & Co. must be recognized for their indelible and continuing impact on the jeweled arts throughout their impressive run.