Luxury & Fashion

Sep 1, 2015

Nature at Tiffany's

Tiffany. Who doesn't know the renowned brand of jewelry? Tiffany, ever since its founding, has been at the forefront of the world's greatest design movements. By the turn of the twentieth century, Louis Comfort Tiffany emerged as an Art Nouveau leader. Tiffany has broken new ground time and again with exceptional designs that remain relevant today.

In 1837, New York, 25-year-old Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young opened a "stationery and fancy goods" store with a $1,000 advance from Tiffany's father. At Tiffany & Co. they discovered a newly emerging "American style" that departed from the European design aesthetic. The young entrepreneurs were inspired by the natural world, which they interpreted in patterns of simplicity, harmony and clarity.

Tiffany first achieved international recognition at the 1867 Paris World's fair. The company was awarded the grand prize for silver craftsmanship, the first time that an American design house had been so honored by a foreign jury. Tiffany was the first American company to employ the British silver standard (92% pure). Largely through the efforts of Charles Lewis Tiffany, this standard was adopted by the U.S. Government.

The Tiffany & Co. silver studio was the first American school of design. Apprentices were encouraged to observe and sketch nature, and to explore the vast collections of sketches and artwork assembled by Edward C. Moore, the celebrated silversmith and head of the studio. By 1870 Tiffany & Co. had become the America's premier silversmith and purveyor of jewels and timepieces. When the 20th century came, the company had more than one thousand employees and branches in London, Paris, and Geneva.

In 1886 Tiffany introduced the engagement ring as we know it today. Previously, diamond rings were set in bezels. But Mr. Tiffany's ring was designed to highlight brilliant-cut diamonds by lifting the stone off the band into the light. This famous ring was named the Tiffany® Setting. To this day, it is the most sought-after symbol of true love.

Having introduced major gemstones to the United States through purchases of the crown jewels of France and Spain, Mr. Tiffany's enterprise was now the world's diamond authority. An unprecedented number of awards gained on the Age of Expositions that took place in Europe and America led to Tiffany's appointment as Royal Jeweler to the crowned heads of Europe, as well as the Ottoman Emperor and the Czar of Russia.

With the death of Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1902, Louis Comfort Tiffany, the founder's son, became Tiffany's first art director. He had already proved he was America's leading designer by 1882, when he was invited to redecorate the White House. By 1900 the younger Tiffany was a world leader in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements.

Over the 20th century, Tiffany continued to surprise with their pieces, capturing the spirit of the times, from the extravagance of the 1920s to the modernism of the 1930s and the aerodynamic age of the 1940s and 1950s. Tiffany china set the stage for White House dinners and Tiffany jewels accented the elegant clothes of the world's most glamorous women.

Jean Schlumberger, a great 20th century jewelry designer, is one among the several renowned jewel designers that contributed to the richness of Tiffany, including Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso.

Throughout the company's history, Tiffany designers have drawn on the natural world for inspiration. Nature is also the source of the precious metals and gemstones necessary for creating their designs. Tiffany was an early proponent of obtaining these materials in ways that are socially and environmentally responsible. The brand's Chairman and CEO Michael J. Kowalski views Tiffany's leadership as an opportunity to create responsible business, putting protection of the environment, respect for human rights and support for the communities as core beliefs and goals.

A heritage based on the highest standards of quality and design excellence has made Tiffany & Co. one of America's great institutions, a world-renowned jeweler with over 200 stores worldwide, and a maker of gifts worth a lifetime.

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