Tiffany & Co.‘s legacy of high-quality, innovative designs has fascinated jewelry collectors for decades. Some of the firm’s most desirable creations are from its famed designers, who have guided Tiffany and Co.’s history
from the Art Nouveau
period to today. Read on for a guide on who’s who in the exciting world of Tiffany & Co.
History of Tiffany & Co
Founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany, Tiffany & Co. quickly established itself as a purveyor of luxury goods, particularly jewelry. Known for their exceptional diamond jewelry
and work in silver, the company name became synonymous with high-quality craftsmanship and the finest materials.
Innovative marketing methods, including the first mailed catalog the world have ever seen, bought Tiffany & Co. nationwide recognition and allowed customers to order fine jewelry at their leisure. Charles Lewis Tiffany was also able to buy pieces from the French Royal Crown Jewels in 1887, further cementing the firm’s role as a source of famous gemstones
. Charles Lewis Tiffany brought his son Louis Comfort Tiffany into the company in 1902, and the family business entered a new century of innovation and excellence.
Tiffany & Co. Kashmir Sapphire Necklace, 10.25 Carats. Circa 1895. M.S. Rau.
Tiffany & Co. was greatly impacted by the Great Depression and World War II, with supply shortages and customers’ lack of interest in fine jewelry both contributing to decreasing sales. The company was taken over in 1955 by businessman Walter Hoving, who set out to hire unique designers who could inspire the brand, and return to the previous high points of creative vision, like that of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Hoving was highly successful, and ushered in a new era of designer-led creative direction, while maintaining the high-quality production that makes Tiffany & Co. antiques
and jewelry so treasured today.
Tiffany Designers & their Influence
Louis Comfort Tiffany
It would be impossible to discuss the influence of Tiffany’s designers and not mention the company’s first-ever jewelry design director,
Louis Comfort Tiffany. Born in New York City in 1848, Tiffany began his career as an artist, studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the National Academy of Design in New York City.
Tiffany’s main interest was glassmaking, and he incorporated inspiration from nature into his designs. Anyone passionate about decorating with antiques
is likely familiar with Tiffany’s favrile glass
lamps, an iridescent art glass patented by the designer.
Louis Comfort Tiffany’s jewelry often featured organic shapes and vibrant gemstones. Many of his creations were inspired by the beauty of the natural world, and frequently f foliage and floral motifs.
Louis Comfort Tiffany Yellow Diamond Ring, 6.73 Carats. Circa 1915. M.S. Rau.
Tiffany chose the gemstones used in his jewelry solely for their beauty and color, caring little for their perceived value or rarity. This makes his Tiffany & Co. Jewelry
featuring valuable gemstones, like the yellow diamonds above, even more rare among his creations.
Jean Schlumberger was a French-born jewelry designer who is best known for his whimsical and playful designs. He was born in 1907 in Paris, France, and studied at the École des Beaux-Arts before working as a freelance designer for various fashion houses, including Schiaparelli. In 1956, he was hired by Tiffany & Co., where he remained employed until his death in 1987.
Schlumberger's Tiffany designs were inspired by a variety of sources, including nature, art and mythology. Successfully combining unconventional materials such as shells, coral and feathers with high-quality metals was a rare art
form, achievable only through Schlumberger's unique perspective. His pieces were often asymmetrical and organic, and they featured bold colors and geometric shapes. Schlumberger's designs were a departure from the traditional designs of Tiffany & Co., and they helped to modernize the company's image.
Tiffany & Co. Bird on a Rock Brooch by Jean Schlumberger. M.S. Rau.
One of Schlumberger’s most iconic Tiffany designs is
the bird on a rock, seen perched above a 54.02 carat cushion-cut tourmaline. The bird on a rock marries the playful whimsy and brilliant creativity Schlumberger was known for, and was even used as an alternate setting for the famed Tiffany Yellow Diamond, one of the brand’s most famous treasures.
Elsa Peretti was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1928. She studied sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, and she later worked as a model for fashion designers such as Cristóbal Balenciaga and Christian Dior. In 1969, she met Halston, who became a close friend and collaborator. Halston encouraged Peretti to design jewelry, and she soon created her first collection for his fashion house.
In 1974, Peretti was hired by Tiffany & Co., where she remained for the rest of her career. She created a wide range of jewelry designs for Tiffany, including the Bean, the Bone, the Open Heart and Diamonds by the Yard. Her designs were popular with celebrities and socialites, and they helped to make Tiffany & Co. one of the most successful jewelry companies in the world.
Tiffany & Co. Mesh Scarf Necklace by Elsa Peretti. M.S. Rau.
Peretti's jewelry designs were influenced by her love of nature and her appreciation for simple, elegant forms. The Tiffany designer often used organic shapes and materials in her designs, and she was known for her attention to detail. Peretti's jewelry was also notable for its sensuality and its ability to flatter the female form.
Peretti's designs had a major impact on the jewelry industry. She helped to redefine the way jewelry was designed and worn, and she made jewelry more accessible to a wider range of people. Her designs are still popular today, and are considered to be some of the most iconic pieces of 20th-century jewelry.
The Austrian-born Angela Cummings is known for her jewelry inspired by natural themes and an abundance of color. After studying in Italy and Germany, she was hired by Tiffany & Co. as an in-house designer, working up to her first official collection released in 1975.
Angela Cummings Tourmaline Earrings by Tiffany & Co. M.S. Rau.
Her designs used primarily 18K yellow gold, emphasized with inlaid semi-precious gemstones
, like the multi-colored tourmalines used above. Cummings was able to incorporate new, fashionable motifs while still maintaining the high-quality craftsmanship that drew collectors to Tiffany & Co..
Although Cummings’ career at Tiffany ended in 1984, she continued to create stunning designs under her own brand, focusing on expanding her creative limits. Today, her designs for Tiffany & Co. are still widely collected, and treasured for their nature-inspired motifs.
Paloma Picasso was born in Vallauris, France, in 1949. Those who enjoy collecting fine art are already familiar with the work of her father, Pablo Picasso. Her mother, Françoise Gilot, was a writer also renowned for her creativity, and both parents certainly passed their talents onto their daughter. Picasso showed an early talent for art, and she began drawing and painting at a young age.
In 1971, Picasso moved to New York City. She quickly became involved in the city's fashion scene, and she began designing jewelry for Tiffany & Co. in 1980. Her designs were an instant success, and she quickly became one of the most popular designers in the company's history.
Tiffany & Co. Tourmaline and Diamond Earrings by Paloma Picasso. M.S. Rau.
Picasso's jewelry designs are known for their bold colors, graphic shapes and playful spirit. She often uses semi-precious stones and unconventional materials. Her designs are inspired by a variety of sources, including her own childhood memories, her travels and her love of art.
Each Tiffany & Co. designer incorporates their own experiences and personal style into their creations, allowing the brand to produce jewelry to suit any occasion. Whether you are searching for a stunning necklace or a pair of earrings,
M.S. Rau’s collection of jewelry from Tiffany & Co.
includes exceptional jewelry pieces from each fascinating era of the firm’s history.