Friday, 22 February 2013

Introduction to Charles Lewis Tiffany Jewelers


An extraordinary tiara of diamonds and turquoise exhibited at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The centre section can be detached and worn as a corsage ornament.
Introduction to Charles Lewis Tiffany Jewelers
Emperors, kings, queens, presidents, captains of industry and theatrical stars have all passed through the portals of Tiffany & Co. Although there is no , ' American equivalent to "By Royal Appointment", the firm has been designated jeweler and silversmith to many royal houses throughout the world, thus achieving that status even without official sanction. When President Abraham Lincoln wished to present a special gift to his wife to wear at his inauguration, he turned to Tiffany's. Many years later, when Jacqueline Kennedy became First Lady, the President-elect ordered a strawberry clip for her, designed by Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany.

A flexible collar or neck ornament composed of 547 Montana sapphires and 299 diamonds, which wok 1,800 hours to produce. It, too, was exhibited in Paris in 1900.
The glamour of Tiffany jewels has tempted European royalty as well as American dignitaries. Empress Eugenie of France, famous for her sumptuous jewels, added the "Queen Pearl", a fine American pearl weighing 93 grains, to her collection. Such famous personalities as Lillie Langtry, Diamond Jim Brady, Lillian Russell, and Sarah Bernhardt bedecked themselves with diamond-and-pearl jewelry by Tiffany.

This peacock feather aigrette features a 30-carat canary diamond which was once part of the Duke of Brunswick Collection. It was exhibited in the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial and this engraving appeared in Jeweler's Circular, 1877.The birth of the firm dates to 21 September 1837 when Charles L. Tiffany and John B. Young opened the first store, known as Tiffany & Young, at 259 Broadway in New York City. Stationery and fancy goods, including fans, Chinese goods, umbrellas, pottery, and "curiosities of every description" filled their shelves. In 1841, Jabez L. Ellis joined the firm and the name was changed to Tiffany, Young & Ellis. With a new partner and added capital, John Young was able to travel abroad to secure the latest European merchandise, initially imitation jewelry from France and Germany and, in 1844, gold jewelry. The firm's first catalogue, published the following year, advertised "a new style of bracelets, hair pins, dress combs, head ornaments, chatelaines, scarf pins, brooches, shawl pins, chains, etc. in gold and imitation" from London, Paris, and Rome. In the year 1848 the firm began the manufacture of gold jewelry, which quickly became one of the most important branches of their business.

A selection of six enameled orchid brooches, set with precious stones. These were exhibited at Tiffany's stand in the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889. Collection of Ruth and Joseph Sataloff
Charles Tiffany, a businessman and entrepreneur of genius, relied upon the expertise of others. His brilliance lay in promotion and he seized every opportunity to promote the name of the store. During the political disturbances in Paris in 1848, when the value of diamonds declined by 50 per cent, John Young, who had arrived there to buy jewelry and European novelties, decided to divert the funds at his disposal to invest in diamonds. This first large purchase of gems was followed by many others, such as the acquisition of the girdle of diamonds reputedly once owned by Marie-Antoinette, and diamonds from the estate of the Hungarian Prince Esterhazy.

The gold corsage ornament in the form of a life-size iris is set with 139 sapphires from Montana, as well as demantoid garnets, topaz and diamonds. It was exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900 and was bought by the railroad magnate and art collector Henry Walters. Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore
Gideon F.T. Reed, formerly of the Boston jewelers Lincoln, Reed & Co., became a partner in 1850. He established a branch in Paris, at 79 Rue Richelieu, which became known as Tiffany & Reed. Operating from this store, he purchased precious stones and was able to secure select merchandise for the "diamond parlor" at the New York establishment.

Steady expansion of the business prompted several moves uptown, to 271 Broadway in 1847, 'and to 550 Broadway in 1854. When Young and Ellis retired on 1 May 1853, the name of the firm was changed to Tiffany & Co., as it remains today.

The firm was incorporated on 1 May 1868, with Charles Tiffany designated president and treasurer. The same year, a branch was established in London with offices at 29 Argyll Street. The first Geneva office was opened at 7 Rue Leverrier in 1868, and it was followed a few years later with a salesroom for watches, jewelry and diamonds. In 1872, Tiffany's started a watch factory in the Place Cornavin in Geneva; however, "the conditions surrounding European labor were found to be wholly inapplicable to American methods" and it was closed a few years later.

A gold and platinum corsage ornament in the shape of a chrysanthemum, the flower composed of American freshwater pearls, and the leaves set with diamonds (c. 1900). In 1870, Tiffany's moved its New York headquarters to Union Square, commissioning one of the first fireproof buildings in the city, with a stock of jewelry, silver, watches, diamonds, fancy goods, leather goods, and stationery that was expanded to include displays of art works in bronze, statuary, bric-a-brac, clocks, mantel sets, lamps, curios, reproductions of ancient armour, porcelain, and glassware. Before public museums became widely available to the general public in America, Tiffany's was regarded as an "Art Emporium", a museum of industrial art, and advertised itself as such. One reviewer noted that "seeing Tiffany's in an afternoon is like seeing Europe in three months."

Tiffany's participated in major expositions in the latter half of the 19th century, winning numerous awards and honours. These world fairs elevated Tiffany's from a small company into an international house with world-wide recognition. At their first venture, the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1853, the firm showed several examples of strung pearl work which were considered as precious as diamonds in cost and beauty.

This early I 9th-century brooch of pearls, diamonds, emerald, silver and gold was part of the Empress Eugenie's "Great Girdle", which was among the French Crown Jewels offered at public auction in 1887. Tiffany's spent over $480,000 for jewels at that auction, a sum greater than the combined purchases of the next nine bidders, and resold the pieces to prominent American society figures, such as the Astros, Stan fords and Pulitzers. Private collection At the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial, Tiffany's displayed unmounted stones diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, opals, cat's eyes - as well as a four-string necklace of Oriental pearls and a ring set with an American pearl, the only example of its kind in the exhibition. Conch shell jewelry, the latest fashion in Paris, was shown along with gemstone jewelry.

Upon the opening of the diamond mines in South Africa in the early 1870s, diamonds had become more plentiful, and Tiffany's display at the Centennial was the first opportunity for many Americans to view the glittering stones. One of the most remarkable specimens of diamond setting, according to a review at the time, was a "perfect imitation of a full blown rose, every leaf is detached and crusted with small white diamonds of the very purest water." The highlight of the exhibition was a "Peacock Feather" hair ornament. The centre of the feather consisted of a 30-carat lemon-yellow diamond, purchased at the Duke of Brunswick auction in Geneva in 1874, surrounded by over six hundred diamonds, the ensemble fashioned in such a way as to quiver at the slightest movement. The quill was supported by a light platinum structure, a metal that Tiffany's was starting to use in jewelry and also to adorn their Japanesque silverware.

A smelling salts bottle of Yellowstone National Park agate and yellow sapphires, amethysts rubies demantoid garnets gold and silver. It was exhibited at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.Herman Marcus represented Tiffany's at the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle. Marcus had worked with Tiffany's in the 1850s when he first arrived in the US from Germany, and returned to the firm in 1877 after his own company, Starr & Marcus, was dissolved. Notable jewelry exhibited at this exposition included examples in the Japanesque style as well as reproductions of the Curium treasures that were discovered by the American Consul in Cyprus, General Luigi Palma di Cesnola. The firm did not show any pieces specially designed for the exhibition, but preferred to send examples from their stock which, they believed, would "give a fairer average view of their capabilities."

Tiffany's received many awards at the Paris Exposition, especially for its innovative Japanesque silver, decorated with metal alloys, as well as a gold medal for jewelry. Charles Tiffany was named a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur and received the Gold Medal "Praemia Digno" from the Emperor of Russia. There followed numerous appointment is as jeweler and silversmith to many of the monarchs throughout the world, including Queen Victoria of England, the Emperor of Ger-many, the Grand Dukes Alexis, Paul, and Sergius of Russia, and the Khedive of Egypt.

The 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond, discovered in the Kimberley Mines in South Africa in 1878, has remained part of the Tiffany Collection ever since.
The mines of South Africa were yielding not only large quantities of diamonds but also fancy coloured stones. Perhaps the best known example, the Tiffany Diamond, weighed 287.42 carats in the rough when it was discovered in 1878 in the Kimberley Mines. The largest and finest canary diamond in existence at the time, it was transferred to Paris and cut into a cushion shape of 128.54 carats with ninety facets to maximize its brilliance.

The traditional setting of diamond solitaires used bezel mountings, which encased the lower part, or pavilion, of the stone. In 1886, Tiffany's introduced the "Tiffany setting" which lifted the diamond away from the shank by supporting prongs, thus permitting light to penetrate from below to enhance the brilliance of the gem. This setting has become the standard for engagement rings.

The Adams Vase, designed by Paulding Farnham, was commissioned by the stockholders and directors of the American Cotton Oil Co. as a gift to Edward Dean Adams, chairman of the board. It was made of solid gold and set with over 200 American gemstones and pearls (1893-95). Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Edward Dean Adams, 1904 The association of the Tiffany name with diamonds was due in large part to the acquisition at public auction in 1887 of a major share of the French Crown Jewels. These were part of the collection Empress Eugenie was forced to leave behind when she fled Paris in 1870. Tiffany's bought twenty four lots for $480,000, a sum greater than the combined purchases of the nine next largest buyers. Among the articles acquired were five diamonds presumed to be from the Mazarin collection. Tiffany's sold the jewels either in their original mountings or in more modern settings. According to an 1887 estimate, Tiffany's vaults held over $40 million in precious stones. Some of the stones from this sale became part of the elaborate jewelry display of Tiffany's at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle. One diamond, weighing 25 carats, was the centre stone of a diamond necklace, valued at $175,000.

An enameled necklace designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, set with Mexican opals and pearls (c. 1905). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Gift of Sydney and Frances Lewis
The Tiffany exhibit featured exotic subjects and material from the Americas, and was the first attempt at a purely "American art in jewel work". Some of the jewelry designs were derived from Native American artifacts created by the Navajo and Zuni" Indians of New Mexico, the Hupa Indians of North Carolina, and the Sitka and Chillkat Indians in Alaska. One piece, a brooch in the shape of a carved wooden mask used by medicine men of the Chillkat Indians, was set with rare brown pearls from Tennessee.

Also exhibited were twenty-five enameled orchids, perfect reproductions of nature, modeled after varieties found in New Mexico, Brazil, Guatemala, East India, and the Philippine Islands. The enameling technique for these orchids was perfected under the direction of Edward C. Moore, chief designer and director of the silver manufacturing division. Colours, true to nature in minute detail, were executed in hard, dull enamels.
The enameled "Peacock" neck-lace designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, set with opals, amethysts, sapphires, demantoid garnets, rubies and emeralds (c. 1905).
 At the exposition, the orchids, suspended from the top of the display case, formed a canopy over the glittering diamond jewelry below. Before their journey to Paris, Tiffany's displayed the orchids in the New York store and sold them to individual customers among them Jay Gould, who added several pieces to his natural orchid collection?

Paulding Farnham is credited with designing the jeweled articles exhibited at the 1889 exposition. He was the nephew of Charles T. Cook, who became president of the firm in 1902. Beginning at Tiffany's as a youth, Farnham received his art instruction at the "Tiffany School" under the tutelage of Edward Moore. This apprenticeship, together with his training as a sculptor, inspired and enabled him to transform decorative objects into works of art. Some of the finest Tiffany jeweled objects were created under his direction.

A pendant/ topaz amethysts phires and pearlsOn 1 September 1879, George Frederick Kunz joined Tiffany's jewelry department. His expertise lay not in design or in gem setting but in gem selection. He travelled the world in search of mineral treasures, wrote prolifically of his findings, and was instrumental in placing Tiffany's at the forefront of discoveries in coloured gem-stones and freshwater pearls. For the 1889 exposition, Kunz assembled a collection of native American gems, minerals and ornamental stones, among them sapphires from North Carolina, beryl’s and tourmalines from Maine, garnets from Arizona and New Mexico, an Oregon opal, arrowheads of quartz crystal, blocks of amber and jet, and the first samples of pectolite and wollastonite ever cut. This assemblage, known as the Tiffany Collection, as well as another collection of Kunz-gathered gem stones exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exposition, were purchased by I. Pierpont Morgan for the American Museum of Natural History in Nr York, and formed the nucleus of the museum's gem collection, known at the time as the Morgan Collection. In recognition of these eminent individuals, two stones were named for them: a violet pink variety of spodumene was called kunzite and a pink variety of beryl, morganite.

Designs by Jean Sehiumberger: the "Scarf" necklace set with diamonds, emeralds and sapphires (1956), and an elephant clip of transparent paillone enamel, emeralds, diamonds, cabochon rubies, pear-shaped turquoise drop, grey spinels and white onyx (1967). By 1893, Paulding Farnham had assumed the position of chief designer and director of the jewelry division. For the jewelry displayed at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition, he turned to the artistic work of earlier periods such as 14th- and 15th-century Italian, old Hungarian, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Egyptian, Greek, East Indian, Japanese and French. For this eclectic collection, Farnham collaborated with Kunz on the selection of appropriate diamonds and coloured gem-stones for each article. One piece, a foulard or epaulette based on Spanish lace, contained 9 yellow sapphires, 861 emeralds and 1,072 diamonds. 
Below, a dragon brooch designed by Donald Claflin, with diamond pave body, emeralds, ruby, cabochon turquoise (1968).The lapidary arts were evident in such pieces as an East Indian bottle of carved jade and a smelling bottle of Yellowstone National Park agate, both set with coloured gemstones. Tiffany's also displayed a representative selection of every gem used in jewelry manufacture, a collection of American pearls, and a practical display of cutting and polishing diamonds.

Paulding Farnham transformed the art of jewelry into hollow-ware design by creating works of art in silver and gold that were jewel-like in appearance. Unusual stones such as hessonites, zircons, and spessartites were juxtaposed with another jewelers' technique, enameling. One example, the Adams Vase, is a tour de force of Renaissance inspiration. Solid gold and set with over 200 American gemstones, pearls and rock-crystal, the vase typifies the thoroughness of research that characterized Farnham's designs. Every detail was care-fully examined from living plants and animals brought to the design studio.

A necklace with a I06-carat tanzanite and diamonds in a twisted knot setting, designed by Angela Cummings (1982). At the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle, Farnham, by then chief de-signer of both the jewelry and silver departments, received two gold medals. One piece from this exposition, the iris brooch, the most magnificent Tiffany jewel in existence, was fashioned out of 139 Montana sapphires. At 91 inches in length, this jewel would be difficult, if not uncomfortable, to wear. Another object, a life-size swallow Tiffany's exhibited in the 1901 Buffalo Pan-American Exposition, had a wing span of 71/2 inches. Beginning with the orchids displayed in the 1889 Paris Exposition, some Tiffany exhibits increased in size as they decreased in their usefulness as wearable pieces of jewelry. The iris and the swallow brooches are only two of the many pieces Farnham designed formally as jewelry, but intended as works of art.

A brooch with a fancy yellow diamond of 107 carats, surrounded by 23 pear shaped marquise diamonds (1988). For the 1904 St Louis Exposition, Farnham contributed silverware in the Renaissance style as well as an ornate diamond necklace with enameled figures in imitation of 16th-century Spanish jewelry. In the same display, Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibited examples of his jewelry, such as the medusa brooch and sprays of American wild flowers, enameled and set with gemstones.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the firm's founder, became Vice President and Art Director of Tiffany's when his father died in 1902. His lamps, Favrile glass, pottery, and enamels, as well as his early experiments in jewelry, were retailed at the Tiffany store. Executed by Julia Munson at the Tiffany Furnaces, these early pieces, such as the peacock necklace, have a "hand wrought" appearance. On 3 May 1907, upon taking over the jewelry division of Tiffany Furnaces, Tiffany & Co. established a special "Art Jewelry" department for the manufacture and sale of Louis Tiffany's jewelry on the sixth floor of the store, which had moved in 1905 to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 37th Street. After 1907, all his jewelry bears the Tiffany & Co. stamp.

The clip of a 75-carat emerald, surrounded by 138 diamonds (1 950), is known as the "Hooker" emerald after its original owner, Janet Annenberg Hooker. Louis Tiffany endeavoured to produce simple and practical jewelry that featured remarkable colour effects by combining gold, enamel and precious and coloured gemstones, unlike Tiffany & Co. jewelry which incorporated precious stones into sophisticated and elaborate settings. An accomplished artist, Louis Tiffany transferred the palette of his Impressionistic paintings into the muted colour tones of his jewelry by juxtaposing gemstones, such as opals, with enameling and plique-ii-jour. The earlier "hand wrought" jewelry was freer and more organic, naturalistic in feeling, while his later pieces, made at Tiffany & Co., tend to be symmetrical and smaller in scale - wearable designs for the average person.

When Charles Cook died in 1907, John C. Moore, son of Edward C. Moore, became president of the firm. For whatever reason, Paulding Farnham resigned from Tiffany's in 1908. Although some magnificent jewelry designs continued to be produced, the creative impetus that existed while Farnham was at the helm of the design department began to wane. Although Louis Tiffany remained as Art Director until 1918, very little of his influence can be seen in Tiffany & Co. jewelry other than those pieces designed and sold in the "Art Jewelry" department.

Paloma Picasso wearing an elaborate Tiffany set of necklace and earrings, set with a wide selection of precious and semi-precious stones.By the time of the 1939 New York World's Fair, jewelry had evolved into larger, geometric conceptions. Tiffany's exhibited a selection of necklaces, brooches, bracelets, rings and tiaras which reflected the dramatic use of gemstones in sculptural settings. One example, a diamond and ruby orchid brooch, had been transformed from its enameled predecessors at the 1889 Paris Exposition into the new style influenced by the machine age with its spirals, domes, rectangles and scrolls. Along with modernistic jewelry, Tiffany's exhibited two strands of Oriental pearls. The firm staunchly resisted selling cultured pearls, preferring to continue offering the natural variety to their customers.

In 1940, Tiffany's moved to their present premises at the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue. The Paris and London branch stores were forced to close during the Second World War; a new store in Bond Street, London, was not opened until 1986. (A branch was introduced to Munich in 1987, and the following year new Tiffany shops were established in Zurich and Hong Kong) Walter Hoving, who had been the president of Bonwit Teller, the department store located next door to Tiffany's, took over the reins of the company in 1955. Like Charles Tiffany before him, he invited talented individuals, such as Jean Schlumberger, to join the firm.

The original drawing (detail) made in 1886 of the "Tiffany setting"Schlumberger breathed new life into Tiffany's designs, transforming jewelry from flat, two-dimensional objects into works of art. In the 1930s, he had worked with Elsa Schiaparelli, designing costume jewelry and buttons, and in 1941 he opened his own shop with Nicolas Bongard in New York. During the late 1940s and '50s, his well-known repertory of jewelry was formulated, drawing upon nature for images of animals, sea creatures, fish, birds, and flowers.

Schlumberger's creations whether a piece of jewelry or an objet d'art pulsate with life. In his own words, "I try to make everything look as if it were growing, uneven, at random, organic, in motion. I want to capture the irregularity of the universe. I observe nature and find verve." This is the essence of his jewelry. Schlumberger revived the art of enameling, and combined precious and coloured gemstones within the total de-sign. He revived jewelry techniques which had lain dormant since the turn of the century. 
Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902)His designs are characterized not by their abundant use of costly materials, but by their attention to detail and intricate workmanship. He has often been com-pared to Faberge and Cellini. Tiffany's gave special recognition to his talents by signing his name to his jewelry designs.

In 1965, Hoving enticed Donald Claflin, who had worked for David Webb, Inc., to join the firm. Claflin introduced a new line of jewelry that combined gemstones with hardstones, conceived a new Tiffany set-ting in which two bands cross with the diamond set at the intersection, and de-signed fanciful jewelry based on story book characters and imaginary creatures.

In 1967, a young designer by the name of Angela Cummings became Claflin's assistant. Six years later, Tiffany's introduced her first collection and she soon became known for her unusual combinations of materials and for her nature-inspired de-signs. Knots are twisted, and rose petals, elm leaves, spider-webs and dragonfly wings appear frozen in gold, iced with diamonds.

A swallow corsage ornament, set with diamonds and Montana sapphires to represent the blue sheen of the wings. This piece was shown in the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo.
In 1974, Elsa Peretti became the second signature designer to join the Tiffany design team. Her idea of creating jewelry with simple, softer, sculptural shapes was revolutionary; she changed the conception of jewelry to one of design rather than decoration. Her shapes derive from interpretations of popular symbols such as hearts, letters of the alphabet, and signs of the zodiac, or are abstracted from animal anatomy such as bones. Her designs are created in both gold and silver, making the latter metal acceptable as a jewelry material.

The "Bone Cuff" bracelet in silver, designed by Elsa Peretti in 1974Not often does an offspring of a famous person establish a name for themselves; however, Paloma Picasso, daughter of the most celebrated artist of the twentieth century, has done just that. Tiffany's first introduced her jewelry line in 1980. Utilizing unexpected colour contrasts with highly polished surfaces, together with large gemstones, mounted into amply pro-portioned settings, her jewelry exudes the exuberance of contemporary life.

Under the helm of the current chairman, William R. Chaney, Tiffany's celebrated its first 150 years in 1987. For this special anniversary, Paloma Picasso designed a necklace, mounted with a. 396 carat kunzite, in homage to George Kunz. The recent introduction of a new line of diamond jewelry, highlighted by a brooch set with a 1D7 carat canary diamond, continues a tradition of excellence in a manner that would make Charles Tiffany proud of his successors.


Writer – Thames & Hudson



No comments:

Post a Comment