Tiffany & Co.
Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young opened Tiffany, Young, and Ellis in 1837, at Broadway, NYC as a stationery and fancy goods store. It became well known among for its adoption of a unique American style that differed greatly from the widely used European style, known for its ceremonial patterns and the mannered lavishness of the Victorian era. The American style patterns were inspired by nature and combined simplicity, harmony, and clarity. Additionally, the vintage blue box was adopted as a symbol of the great quality of craftsmanship and exclusivity of the products. Furthermore, yet another first for that time was the usage and labeling of non-negotiable selling prices on all of the products.
In 1851, Tiffany became the first American company to adopt the British silver standard of 925/1000, which would later come to be the official U.S Silver Sterling Standard. Two years later, Tiffany took control of the company and renamed it to Tiffany and Co. 1867 was an important year, featuring the reception of international recognition at the Paris World Fair with a grand prize for silver craftsmanship, a first for any American design house. As if that weren’t enough, the company also provided the first American school of design as a silver studio, which encouraged the observation and sketching of nature. Also, head of the studio and accomplished silversmith, Edward C. Moore lent his massive collection of artwork as an additional means of observation and learning. 1878 saw the introduction of the world-famous Tiffany Diamond, which was extracted from the mines in South Africa and cut to 128.54 carats with about 82 facets. It symbolizes and reiterates the excellent craftsmanship of Tiffany products. The company’s success continued in 1886, which featured the introduction of the 6-prong diamond solitaire engagement ring. The diamond was raised up from the band and into the light in order to show off its brilliance. This ring is today the most popular engagement ring and symbol of true love. By the end of the century, with further showings at the Paris World Fair in 1890 and the introduction of many major gemstones to America through purchases from Spain and France, Tiffany and Co. had become the quintessential jeweler and diamond authority in the world.
The World Fair streak continued in 1900, with the company getting so many awards that it was appointed as the Royal Jeweler to many of the European despots, including the Ottoman Emperor and Russian Czar. Unfortunately, Tiffany died in 1902. His son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, took over as the first Art Director for the company, having had major experience in designing with the redecoration of the White House under Chester Arthur’s term of office and his studies in and applications of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements. Some of his Tiffany designs included leaded glass and colorful jewels inspired by American botany.
Tiffany has been able to alter its designs to fit with the times. Its designs were commissioned for all kinds of events, from business to sports to White House dinners. Many celebrities, including Elizabeth Taylor and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, have worn Tiffany jewels. The company drew many visionary designers to its ranks, including Jean Schlumberger (1956), known for his bejeweled birds, flowers, and aquatic life, Elsa Peretti (1970s), who combined simplicity and elegance in her nature-based jewelry, and Paloma Picasso (1980), known for his bold, original designs.
The 20th century was also a time of expansion and growth for Tiffany and Co. A new flagship store opened on Fifth Avenue, at 57th Street, in New York City in 1940. 1963 saw a store opening outside of New York, in San Francisco. 1972 marked the international expansion with a store in Japan, followed by one in London in 1986. Another store was opened in Japan in 1996, in Tokyo.
In recent years, a new engagement ring called the LucidaTM was presented in 1999, a masterpiece for the modern times. In 2003, the Legacy collection debuted, initially featuring diamond engagement rings and wedding bands before it later also included bracelets, pendants, and earrings. It was based on Edwardian designs and combined the past and present. The Tiffany Novo came in 2007, inspired by the Tiffany Diamond. It featured a brilliant cushion-cut that invoked spirit, fire, and style, combined the past and the future in one beautiful diamond.
2012 marked the 175th anniversary of Tiffany and Co. The celebration involved the resetting of the Tiffany Diamond within a necklace of white diamonds and toured all over Europe, Asia, and the United States, before returning to rest in its place on the main floor of the flagship at Fifth Avenue.
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