In this piece, it’s all about Tiffany & Co!
If we were to ask you to name a famous fine jewellery house, it’s more than likely that among the Cartiers and Van Cleef & Arpels that the name Tiffany & Co would pop up. With stores and concessions in almost every major city in the world, and a sales plan that seeks to encompass every income, it’s not only one of the world’s best known jewellery brands, but one of the world’s best known brands, full stop.
But when did it all start?
The roots of Tiffany & Co lie in a business founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young, initially as a “stationery and fancy goods emporium”, selling mainly stationery items, named “Tiffany, Young and Ellis”. In 1853, the name was changed to Tiffany & Company, when Charles Tiffany took control and established the first steps into luxury items and jewellery.
One of Tiffany & Co’s most famous marketing tools, their mail-order catalogue – now known as the Blue Book – was first issued in 1845, the unmistakeable shade of blue chosen by Charles Tiffany himself. Their focus on luxury and quality was rewarded when, in 1867, Tiffany was the first U.S. firm to win an award for excellence in silverware at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Their reputation for high end design was given added prestige in 1878, when Tiffany & Co. won the gold medal for jewellery and a grand prize for silverware at the Paris Exposition.
In 1887, Tiffany bought a selection of the French Crown Jewels, when they were put up for sale by the Third French Republic (we can’t help thinking that the jolly old French made a major boo boo here, but hey, c’est la vie!) This move resulted in much publicity and further solidified the Tiffany brand’s association with high-quality diamonds. This purchasing of fabulous European jewels and jewellery had been started in 1848, by Charles Tiffany, who went on a buying expedition to Europe, buying up heirlooms and family pieces from the increasingly impoverished European aristocracy.
The Tiffany engagement ring was designed in 1886, using a unique six-prong device that maximises the gemstone’s sparkle, allowing light to hit the stone on all sides. It’s still in production today and we can’t even begin to guess how many fingers sport this ring. Personally, we’d choose a bespoke design from Christopher Evans any day…!
Made it to the movies
In 1961, Tiffany & Co made the silver screen, in the eternally fabulous film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring the incomparable Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn played Holly Golightly, an eccentric good time girl in search of a rich, older man. She loves Tiffany, she says, because: “It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets.”
It was in 1969 when the brand released their now iconic Return to Tiffany keyring, a design that has since inspired one of their bestselling collections globally. In 1974, new designer Elsa Peretti joined Tiffany, and later was responsible for another of Tiffany & Co’s most iconic pieces, the Tiffany heart.
Tiffany & Co isn’t all silverware and mass production of course. They were responsible for introducing the peachy-pink gemstone morganite in 1910, named for financier JP Morgan by Tiffany’s chief gemmologist, Dr. George F Kunz. Kunz himself has the pink gemstone Kunzite named after him, of course, following its discovery in 1903. In 1968 Tiffany made the fabulous blue gemstone Tanzanite one of the world’s most sought-after gems, and in 1974 they introduced the green gemstone Tsavorite, which they named for the Tsavo National Park in Kenya, where it was discovered.
Over the decades their collections of high jewellery have revealed some of the most beautiful pieces ever designed, with breath-taking use of coloured gems, from sapphires and tanzanite to tourmaline, aquamarine and zoisite.
It’s clear that Tiffany means different things to different people, but whether you’re in the market for a one-of-a-kind piece of couture jewellery, or a Tiffany key-ring to call your own, the arrival of anything in a pale blue box, adorned with a white ribbon, is sure to set your heart beating harder.