Tiffany & Co. 1837
Tiffany & Co. was founded in 1837 by jeweler Charles Lewis Tiffany and his business partner John B. Young. The company started out as a stationary and fancy goods emporium (originally named Tiffany & Young) and quickly moved to Lower Manhattan in 1838. Charles Tiffany had effectively established his company in the jewelry industry by 1853, pulling away from its origins as a luxury odds and ends company.
Within 8 years of the company being founded, they released their first mail order catalog in 1845 which is known as the Tiffany & Co. “Blue Book.” They were the first company in the United States to send a mail order catalog, and it was their first debut of the iconic 1837 Blue color which was later patented and branded in 1998.
In 1853 Charles took over sole ownership and control of the company and it was officially named Tiffany & Co. After this, the company moved to a store in Union Square where it flourished as the destination for New York’s fashionable and wealthy elite in the 1870’s. At this time, Tiffany was known for Japonesque-style silverware and diamond jewelry. Charles became known as the “King of Diamonds.”
What’s known as the Tiffany diamond was purchased by the company in 1878 as an uncut stone. The diamond weighs 128.54 carats after being cut and is an intense canary yellow stone from South African deposits.
Just over a decade later, in 1889, Tiffany & Co. redefined jewelry as an art form at the Paris Exposition Universelle. They presented 24 life-sized orchid brooches and won first place for their groundbreaking work.
In the 1900’s Louis Comfort Tiffany took over the company as their first design director following his father’s death. 50 years after their Paris win, the company’s new-founded Art Deco style triumphed at the 1939 World’s Fair. One piece of jewelry presented at the fair featured a 200-carat aquamarine with 429 diamond, and was sold for $28,000. Adjusting for inflation, that’s just over half a million dollars in today’s value.
This necklace from 1939 was the predecessor of Tiffany & Co.’s World’s Fair Necklace. This updated necklace was unveiled in 2021 at a Tiffany event in Dubai, and is valued between $20-30 million. Tiffany had the chance to work with an 80-carat diamond, and soon after archivists found a sketch of the predecessor.
These two events led to Tiffany & Co. remaking the World’s Fair Necklace, this time with an 80-carat diamond centerpiece and 578 surrounding diamonds. The center wasn’t set with a diamond only because of the company’s opportunity to work with such a large diamond. The choice was made after the original sketch found by archivists presented the necklace with a diamond, not an aquamarine.
One year after the 1939 World’s Fair, Tiffany & Co. moved to their flagship Fifth Avenue store. The location is well-recognized due to the filming of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 featuring Audrey Hepburn.
Present Day Tiffany & Co.
In the late 20th century, following their move to Fifth Avenue, designers Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso joined Tiffany & Co. The two designers are credited with bringing new, approachable styles to the brand. Peretti is the creator of the well-known Diamond by the Yard collection, and Picasso created the unique Graffiti collection. While they were two very different styles, they both brought accessibility to the brand for New Yorkers and others around the world.
In recent years Tiffany has notably worked with Nike to create a unique line of shoes. The brand has maintained its approachability to consumers and while they continue to produce extravagant jewelry pieces, they also have a wide collection of sterling silver jewelry that’s made to be worn daily by anyone.
Visit Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers today to view our large vintage Tiffany & Co. collection. We have vintage Tiffany engagement rings, “Please Return to Tiffany” bracelets and necklaces, as well as jewelry from both the Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso collections. Our team is eager to help you find great vintage Tiffany & Co. rings, bracelets, necklaces, and more!