Jewellery Showcase: The History of Tiffany & Co.

With Thanksgiving being celebrated this week we thought it prudent to give thanks and share our love of vintage jewellery by one of our favourite American brands: Tiffany & Co. This iconic brand dates back to 1837 when Charles Lewis Tiffany opened a small stationary and fancy goods store in New York City with his friend John B Young.

The store was a raging success and quickly established itself as the go-to emporium for the well-to-do ladies of the city to source impeccable jewels and American style timepieces worlds away from the opulence associated with Victorian-era Britain. The company became well known after winning the grand prize for silver craftmanship at the World Fair, Paris in 1867; having adopted the British silver standard of only using metal that had 92% purity.

In 1845, Tiffany was again a pioneer when it launched the Blue Book, which at the time was the first mail-order catalogue to be distributed in the US. More than 170 years later, the annual Tiffany Blue Book is one of the world’s most extensive and beautiful collections of one-of-a-kind couture jewellery set with magnificent gemstones, often of awe-inspiring proportions. Showcasing the brand’s most spectacular pieces, the book has evolved from line drawings to glossy photographs and, for today’s tech-savvy generation, it is also accompanied by a digital version.

Charles made headlines across the globe in 1887 when he famously acquired 1/3 of the French Crown Jewels thus earning himself the moniker, “King of Diamonds”. This coupled with the acquisition of the Kimberley diamond, an astonishing 287.42ct rough Fancy Yellow stone, a decade prior, cemented the company in the pages of history.

After his death in 1902, Charles’ son Louis became the first official design director, establishing the Tiffany Artistic Jewellery department in the company’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue. This would enable the brand to manufacture jewellery on-site. Shortly following this development, Tiffany designers created the U.S. Navy Medal of Honour, a non-combat distinction that was used by the Department of the Navy between 1917 and 1942. Rear Admiral Byrd, Jr. was awarded the Tiffany Cross, for being the first to reach the North Pole in 1926.

 Tiffany has also introduced the world to an array of hitherto unknown coloured gemstones. In 1902, George Kunz discovered the eponymous Kunzite; a purple/pink stone that was unearthed in California. Likewise, in 1910, Morganite was discovered in Madagascar and in honour of a loyal customer – banking legend John Pierpont Morgan – the stone was named after him. In rapid succession came the discovery of Tanzanite in 1967 and Tsavorite in 1964 with the renowned gemmologists of Tiffany continuing to source the worlds most spectacular gemstones to this day.

The name Tiffany & Co has been synonymous with romance, proposals and marriage since 1886 when it unveiled the Tiffany Setting. Until then, diamond rings had been set in bezels, but this new six-prong setting lifted the stone off the band to maximize the stone’s fire and radiance. Not only did the Tiffany Setting revolutionize the engagement ring market, it also turned the American jeweller into the premier destination for couples embarking on married life. For millions of women all over the world, the mere sight of a duck egg blue box is enough to send them weak at the knees and a diamond solitaire from any other jewellery brand just won’t cut it.

Today, Tiffany’s is arguably the most recognisable jewellery brand in the world, selling jewels and treasures that are sought after from every corner of the world. Here at Susannah Lovis, we have an extensive range of Vintage Tiffany on offer, from a 1940s gem set necklace in 18ct yellow gold to an Atlas collection fine vintage charm bracelet. Rest safe in the knowledge that you can have a Tiffany treasure to call your own. We purchase and sell vintage brands in order to provide a huge saving to our clients, selling authentic treasures for a fraction of what Tiffany would usually charge. For a more cost-friendly and rewarding jewellery purchase, vintage is the way to go!

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