Iconic Tiffany & Co.
We’ve all heard of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but did you know that Tiffany & Co., also known colloquially as Tiffany or Tiffany’s, was responsible for the engagement ring as we know it? Or that the flagship Fifth Avenue store was the first fully air-conditioned building in New York? Here we have put together a list of ten things you may not have known about Tiffany & Co.
1. Tiffany & Co. was instrumental in introducing “carat” as the unit of measure for diamonds and precious stones.
Before 1907 there were at different times and in different countries at least twenty-three Standards for the carat range from 187.00 mg to 215.990 mg. Tiffany & Co. urged the introduction of the metric carat in the United States to ensure that everyone is referring to the same thing when selling diamonds. Tiffany’s gemologist standards were so accurate that when the Gemological Institute of America introduced the grading system it was a simplified version of Tiffany’s.
Tiffany & Co. diamond 18k yellow gold & platinum bracelet
2. The engagement ring as we know it was introduced by Tiffany.
In 1886, Tiffany introduced the engagement ring as we know it today. Before that, diamond rings were used in bezels. Tiffany’s ring is designed to highlight brilliant cut diamonds by lifting the stone off the band into the light. This famous ring was called the Tiffany® Setting. To date, it is the most sought-after engagement ring style.
3. The Tiffany & Co. Silver Studio was the first American design school!
Trainees were encouraged to observe and sketch nature and to explore the vast collections of sketches and artwork put together by Edward C. Moore, the famous silversmith and director of the studio.
Tiffany & Co. Platinum Diamond & Briolette Aquamarine Pointed Necklace
4. The Tiffany Yellow Diamond, a 128-carat stone valued at $ 22 million, had received the boldest and most ready-to-use treatment than any other stone at the time!
The carat weight of the diamond was 287.42 (57.484 g) when it was discovered in the Kimberley Mine in South Africa in 1878. Tiffany’s gemologist George Frederick Kunz, who was entrusted with cutting the diamond, was only 23 years old at the time! He studied the gemstone for a year before starting to cut it. Reduce it to less than half its size. Kunz cut the diamond into a pillow shape with 82 facets – 24 more than a traditional round brilliant – to maximize its brilliance. The facet pattern has eight needle-like facets that point outward from the culet facet (below). The jewelry and diamond historian Herbert Tillander describes this as “outstanding brilliant cut”. Interestingly, Kunz did not go to college. He taught himself mineralogy from books and field research. He later was also the founder and president of the Peaceful Arts Museums and research curator at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. It is known that the diamond was only worn by two women during their lifetime. It was worn by Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse at the 1957 Tiffany Ball in Newport, Rhode Island, and mounted in a white diamond necklace for the occasion. It was later worn by Audrey Hepburn in 1961 for commercials Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Audrey Hepburn & The Tiffany Yellow Diamond
5. Diamond Plated Telephone Extravaganza.
In 2009, a collaboration between the Japanese mobile operator SoftBank and Tiffany & Co. was announced. The two companies designed a mobile phone that was limited to ten copies and contained more than 400 diamonds totaling more than 20 carats (4.0 g). Each cell phone costs more than 100,000,000 yen ($ 903,824).
6. The first fully air-conditioned building in New York.
Tiffany’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, with its polished granite exterior, is known for its windows and the store has been the location of a number of films, including Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sweet Home Alabama. In 1940, Tiffany moved upstairs for the sixth and final time to this current location, where a seven-story Art Deco building valued at $ 2.5 million was constructed. It was the first fully air-conditioned building in New York.
7. The company’s manufacturing facilities produce approximately 60% of the goods sold – the rest, including rose gold and almost all non-jewelry, comes from third parties overseas.
Tiffany & Co oversees a major U.S. manufacturing facility for jewelry and silverware made in Mount Vernon, New York. Majority in Cumberland, Rhode Island; and Lexington, Kentucky, while Rhode Island produces silver hollowware.
8. Colored gemstones.
Tiffany offers jewelry made with a variety of colored gemstones and played a huge role in popularizing the gemstones such as tsavorite, kunzite and morganite. In February 2015, a turquoise and aquamarine bib designed by Francesca Amfitheatrof, Tiffany’s design director and worn by Cate Blanchett at the 2015 Academy Awards contrasted positively with the white diamond jewelry of other stars.
9. If you were living in the 1850s, you could buy Tiffany royal diamonds.
Tiffany’s rule over diamonds began in 1848 with the abdication of King Louis-Philippe of France and the company’s purchase of diamonds by aristocrats. The sale marked the first appearance of major gemstones in the United States and the availability of stones for purchase by America’s newly minted millionaire class, including industrial titans such as Leland Stanford of the Central Pacific Railroad, from whom much of the Spanish crown jewels were purchased Tiffany & Co. The frenzy for royal jewels culminated in 1887 with the purchase of about a third of the French crown jewels by the company. One of the customers was Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer, who became the proud owner of Empress Eugenie’s necklace with four giant diamond rivers.
10. Tiffany & Co played an important role during the wars.
During World War II, the Newark factory (which made surgical instruments during World War I) was mainly used for military production. It made precision parts for anti-aircraft guns (which it re-manufactured during the Korean War) and assembly blocks for aircraft.