Tiffany & Co. Antique Jewellery History

The luxury jewellery company – Tiffany & Co. was started by two young American entrepreneurs, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young in 1837. The pair opened their “stationary and fancy goods” store in Lower Manhattan, New York. They initially sold a variety of items including silverware, flatware and other stationary. Later on, the focus shifted primarily to jewellery, when Charles Tiffany took over creative control of the company.

The emporium can be credited with moving away from the European aesthetic of ceremonial tradition associated with the Victorian Era, and establishing the “American style” of jewellery fashion. This style rejected religious iconography and over-elaborate decoration, instead drawing on natural forms for inspiration. The hallmarks of Tiffany’s design were simplicity, clarity and harmony.

The company first gained recognition for its silverware. Tiffany was awarded the grand prize for silver craftsmanship in the 1867 Paris Exposition Universelle. This was the first time an American design company was honoured by a European jury.

Tiffany is known world over for creating some of the finest diamond jewellery in the world. In 1878, Tiffany obtained one of the world’s largest and rarest fancy yellow diamonds from the mines of South Africa. The diamond was brilliant-cut to 128.54 carats (most brilliant-cut diamonds are only 58) making it the distinctive Tiffany Diamond trademark.

The brand’s diamond engagement ring design or the “Tiffany Setting” became the gold standard for engagement rings to this day. The innovative design lifted the diamond above the platinum band with six prongs, allowing more light to pass through the stone – achieving greater shine and brilliance.

Tiffany and Co. thrived throughout the 19th Century and well into 20th Century up to Charles Tiffany’s death in 1902. The brand is still highly recognised and sought after to this day as America’s most prominent jewellery company.