Tiffany & Co.

Founded by school friends Charles Lewis Tiffany and John Barnett Young in 1837 in New York, Tiffany & Co. is the world’s oldest major jewellery brand.

The company started life as Tiffany and Young, selling small luxury goods such as purses, fine stationery and a wide selection of imitation jewellery. In 1853, Tiffany bought out his partner and renamed the company Tiffany & Co. Over the next 50 years, Tiffany & Co. would become a world-famous jewellery brand, attracting the business of some of the most important jewellery collectors of the 20th century. Today, the firm has more than 300 stores worldwide, selling around $4 billion worth of jewellery and accessories every year.

The company first became a renowned destination for diamonds in 1848, when Charles Lewis Tiffany purchased a selection of fine gemstones from European aristocrats and brought them back to the US. The firm opened a Paris branch in 1850, and a year later started a relationship with Patek Philippe in Geneva. In November 2022, a rare Patek Philippe Nautilus with Tiffany Blue dial made to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the partnership sold for CHF 3,174,000 at Christie’s in Geneva.

Tiffany Blue is the name given to the characteristic ‘robin’s egg’ colour associated with the company. It has been the hallmark colour of Tiffany & Co. since 1845, when the company published its first collection catalogue. The annual publication, now known as the Tiffany Blue Book Collection, became the first mail-order catalogue to be distributed in America.

By the late 1860s, Tiffany & Co. was making gold and silver jewels, set with native gemstones such as tourmalines, freshwater pearls, lapis lazuli and amethyst. It had also introduced the Tiffany Timer, America’s first stopwatch.

In 1877, the company made headlines when it acquired a 287.42-carat fancy yellow diamond. The following year, the stone was cut to 128.54 carats and renamed the Tiffany Yellow Diamond. One of the world’s largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds, it has been worn by celebrities including Audrey Hepburn, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga.

In 1886, the firm introduced the now instantly recognisable Tiffany setting, a six-prong setting that allows the diamond to float above the band. It has been the signature setting for Tiffany engagement rings since then.

The following year, the firm spent $487,459 on the French Crown Jewels. The spectacular stones were reset in Tiffany designs and eagerly acquired by the new American tycoons who had made fortunes building empires of industry and finance in the last quarter of the 19th century.

In 1902, Louis Comfort Tiffany — the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany and the founder of the glassmaking firm Tiffany Studios — was appointed the company’s first official design director. A leading exponent of the Art Nouveau movement, he favoured colourful, naturalistic designs that remain a major inspiration for the brand today.

The Great Depression and World War II hit Tiffany & Co. hard, and recovery was slow. In 1955, however, the firm was taken over by Walter Hoving, who sparked a turnaround in its fortunes. A year later, the Parisian jewellery designer Jean Schlumberger joined the company. Jacqueline Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Paul Mellon were all fans of Schlumberger’s delicate designs. So too was Richard Burton, who bought his wife Elizabeth Taylor a Tiffany diamond, sapphire and emerald Dolphin Brooch by Jean Schlumberger for the premiere of the film The Night of the Iguana in August 1964. When her collection was offered for sale by Christie’s in New York in December 2011, the brooch realised $1.2 million.

Also offered by Christie’s in 2011 was The Rockefeller Sapphire, which sold for $3 million. Originally in the collection of Nizam of Hyderabad, the 62.02 carat Burmese gemstone was purchased in 1937 by John D. Rockefeller, in whose possession it remained for the next 34 years. In June 2018, the sale of The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller in New York included a Schlumberger Tiffany sapphire and diamond Sea Shells bracelet, which sold for $250,000. More recently, Christie’s sold a Schlumberger Tiffany cross pendant set with rubies and diamonds for $16,380, more than double the high estimate.

The 1961 release of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn, was another powerful advertisement for the brand. In 1974, Elsa Peretti joined the company, and five years later became the firm’s principal designer. She was the creative brains behind such notable designs as the Bean, Open Heart, Cross and Zodiac. In recent years, Christie’s has offered Tiffany Bean necklaces, Tiffany silver necklaces and Zodiac-inspired Tiffany earrings by Peretti. In 1980, Paloma Picasso joined the company, ushering in a fresh new look. Inspired by the graffiti of New York City, she created jewels that combined large, colourful stones and bold mountings.

Since then, Tiffany & Co. has launched a wide range of coveted collections, among them the Tiffany T collection, the Tiffany HardWear collection and the Tiffany Lock collection. Tiffany Lock bracelets, rings and necklaces feature a reimagined archival padlock motif. Inspired by a key ring from 1966, the enduringly popular Return to Tiffany collection is characterised by its iconic heart tag. The collection includes Tiffany heart necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

In 2023, Tiffany & Co. teamed up with Nike on an eye-catching update to the classic Air Force 1 Low sneaker. The Tiffany Blue Nike shoes are crafted from black suede and feature a Tiffany Blue Swoosh and archival Tiffany logo on the tongue.

In recent years, Christie’s has offered important multi-gem Tiffany earrings, Tiffany charm bracelets and Tiffany necklaces, including a late 19th-century emerald and diamond necklace, which sold for CHF 1,572,500 in 2018. Tiffany diamond rings and Tiffany rings with coloured stones can also be acquired on the secondary market. In 2019, Christie’s offered an important Belle Epoque emerald and diamond ring, known as The Dupont Emerald, for $1,635,000, more than double the high estimate.