In the 1830’s New York City was a place of prosperous new beginnings for anyone with a great idea and a bit of capital. In 1837, twenty five year old Charles Lewis Tiffany borrowed one thousand dollars from his father and opened a stationary and fancy goods store with his partner, John B. Young. It was at their shop, at 259 Broadway, that the young entrepreneurs began to redefine American style. Inspired by the natural world, their designs were simple and exquisite. Beginning with silver hollowware and flatware, the team quickly moved into jewellery design.
In 1886 Tiffany & Co. introduced the engagement ring as we know it today — the Tiffany® Setting —and the company was prospering like never before. By the 20th century Tiffany & Co. was America’s finest and most renowned merchant of jewels, timepieces and luxury household accessories. They had over one thousand employees, and shops in London, Paris, and Geneva.
An impressive number of awards led to Tiffany’s appointment as Imperial Jeweller and Royal Jeweller to the crowned heads of Europe, the Ottoman Emperor and the Czar and Czarina of Russia. With the death of Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1902, Louis Comfort Tiffany, the founder’s son, became Tiffany’s first Director of Design. Louis proved himself as an incredible artist and quickly became America’s leading jewellery designer. He produced innovative pieces ranging from remarkable leaded glass, to colorful favrile glass, and enameled and painterly jewels.
With the legacy set in motion, Tiffany designers have continued to impress new standards and revolutionize the jewellery industry for two centuries. Their collections have always effectively captured the essence of the times and have been an undeniable representation of glamour and luxury. At many prestigious events throughout America and Europe, as far back as the 1800’s, Tiffany & Co. has been there in some capacity, making history a little more beautiful.
History & Timeline
1837 Tiffany & Young is established with the first non-negotiable selling prices in America. The first day’s sales total is $4.98
1837 the Blue Box is introduced. The distinctive shade of blue is chosen to symbolize the company’s reputation for quality and craftsmanship
1845 the first Blue Book, or Tiffany catalogue, is published
1853 Charles Tiffany assumes control of the company and renames it Tiffany & Co.
1861 employed to design a presentational pitcher for the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln
1867 the first American firm to win an award for the excellence of its silverware at the Paris Exposition Universelle
1878 Charles Tiffany purchases the Tiffany Diamond, one of the world’s largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds, weighing 287.42 carats
1885 commissioned to revise the great seal of the United States of America
1926 the company’s standard of purity becomes the official standard for platinum in the United States
1940 move headquarters to its current location on Fifth Avenue at 57th street in New York City
1950 Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote is published
1956 the Parisian master jewellery designer, Jean Schlumberger, joins Tiffany & Co.
1967 hired by the National Football League to create the first Super Bowl trophy
1968 commissioned to design a White House china service by First Lady Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson
1987 offers its stock for trading on the New York Stock Exchange
1987 celebrate 150th anniversary
1995 the Louvre museum in Paris honors Jean Schlumberger with a retrospective entitled, “A Diamond in the City.”
2003 the Tiffany Legacy collection is introduced
2004 Nascar commissions a trophy design that is hand-crafted by Tiffany artisans
By: Shelia May – NICHE Magazine Holiday 2013
Our Style Editor – Josie Saldat travelled to NYC to interview Tiffany & Co. Creative Director, Francesca Amfitheatrof on her 2015 Blue Book. Read more here