Friday, November 29, 2013

Holidays at Tiffany & Co.

Post by Christine Webb

Tiffany's - jewels of rare beauty, masterful craftsmanship, stunning originality, and ethical sourcing - what's not to love about this iconic American jewelry house.  Oh, let's not forget the Blue Box!!!  In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany brought to New York City a vision for the jewelry industry. Today the flagship store on 5th Avenue honors his dream and tradition with captivating and unforgettable jewels.  Charles Lewis Tiffany the founder, and his son Louis Comfort Tiffany (think stained-glass) who took the helm in 1902, would be proud of what their company is doing today - being committed to sourcing gemstones and precious metals in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner - while staying true to the quality and beauty of the jewelry.

Pink and white diamond dragonfly brooch in platinum

Working at Tiffany's, where I managed the Virginia branch from 1990-1994, I always had a "wish" list.  And the two pieces of jewelry that were top of my list were the Schlumberger 4-leaf ring and the Alpine Rose earrings.  My husband surprised me with these gifts for the births of our children.  I treasure these pieces and know that someday my children and grandchildren will enjoy wearing them as much as I do!  And really - when you receive a gift in that little Blue Box - it's just the best!

Schlumberger 4-leaf ring in 18k yellow gold and platinum with diamonds

Alpine Rose Earrings in 18k yellow gold with diamonds

One of the most memorable experiences I had working at Tiffany's was the Picasso event at our store. Paloma Picasso is such an amazing woman.  Not only is she an extremely talented artist who creates incredible jewelry for Tiffany, but she is also a gracious, genuine lady with a fabulous smile.  I so enjoyed meeting her and spending the day with her as she came to the store in Fairfax, VA for an evening to remember.  One of Picasso's signature designs is the universal symbol for a kiss, the "X" and these were the first earrings I purchased at Tiffany's!

 Paloma Picasso and Christine at the Fairfax Square store in the early 1990s

My classic Picasso "X" earrings in 18k yellow gold from her famous Graffiti Collection - iconic!

Paloma Picasso designed this necklace in 1986 for Tiffany's 100th anniversary.  Tiffany & Co. donated it to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in 1990 where it is on display today. This 396.30ct kunzite gem from Afghanistan is set in a stunning 18k gold and diamond necklace with South Sea baroque pearls.  And I love seeing it every week when I'm working at the Museum.

Picasso Kunzite Necklace, kunzite, diamonds, baroque pearls with 18k gold 
(photo by Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution)

Now to the real gem of this blog -  my favorite picks from Tiffany's annual holiday Blue Book! So take a look at what Tiffany's has to offer this year and then check out the Blue Book online Tiffany's Blue Book.

I always think about Tiffany's prior to the holidays as I look forward to devouring the Blue Book and making my dream selections. Diamonds of superlative pedigree and spectacular brilliance, colored gemstones of breathtaking beauty and unparalleled opulence, and designs of utmost creativity and craftsmanship.  These are masterpieces of legendary style - that's what Tiffany & Co. is all about.  

Perhaps my favorite piece in this year's Blue Book is this magnificent Montana sapphire necklace. It features a 5 carat unenhanced Montana sapphire, the size of which is absolutely unheard of as sapphires from Montana are rarely over 1-2 carats.  The size, color, and origin of the sapphire make this a truly amazing piece - and one-of-a-kind to say the least. The necklace is embellished with carved Montana sapphires and round brilliant cut diamonds. The Art Deco design of the necklace is based on a sketch from the Tiffany Archives from the Art Deco period, my absolute favorite era! Someone's going to have a very Happy Holiday!

Montana Sapphire Necklace, 5 carat sapphire accented with carved sapphires and diamonds set in platinum

Christine's Gem to Remember

Montana sapphires have quite a history with Tiffany & Co.  In the 1880's George F. Kunz, the chief gemologist for Tiffany's at the time, was enamored with the gem as they were the "color of the open skies of Montana."  In 1889 and 1900, these sapphires were highlighted at Tiffany's World's Fair exhibitions.  

Below is Paulding Farnham's (jewelry designer and later Director at Tiffany & Co) famous Iris Brooch shown at the 1900 Paris Exposition and now at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore, MD.  It is made of decarbonized steel, gold and platinum, set with 139 Yogo Gulch, Montana sapphires weighing over 100 carats.  The 9" long Iris was accented with yellow topazes, diamonds and green garnets.  Purchased by railroad magnate and art collector Henry Walters, it is considered by many to be the greatest American jewel ever made.

Iris Corsage Ornament, Montana sapphires, topaz, diamond, green garnet 
(photo courtesy Walters Art Gallery)

Now back to this year's Blue Book. This brooch is so life-like, the orchids will always be in full bloom when you wear it!  Tiffany's is known for fine enamel work, with a quality and craftsmanship rarely seen today. The pieces are quintessential Tiffany, carrying on the tradition of nature inspired designs as seen in the flowers and butterflies below.

Orchid Enamel Brooch, 18k yellow gold and enamel with diamonds

From the Schlumberger archives, a statement necklace that will sparkle like the stars!

Schlumberger Stars and Moons Necklace, 127.86 carats of diamonds set in platinum

Have you ever seen anything like this!  I'm swooning over this gorgeous bracelet. It is lined with rose gold, so the underlying pink shows through to enhance the outstanding morganite. And the design of the diamond encrusted bangle with the pierced openwork - simply spectacular!

Morganite and Diamond Bangle, 74.63ct oval morganite with diamonds set in platinum 
and lined with rose gold

Now the bracelet below would make the perfect wrist corsage!  The pavé work is outstanding, and you really see the gemstones bringing the rose to life with the colors of spessartite garnets and yellow diamonds.

 Rose Bracelet, green tsavorite garnets, yellow diamonds, white diamonds, orange spessartite garnets

This bracelet was designed by my favorite Tiffany designer, Jean Schlumberger. I never had the good fortune to meet Schlumberger, but I did have the opportunity to meet his business partner, Nicolas Bongard, at the NY flagship store. Schlumberger once said "...transmission between artist and craftsman is achieved, above all, thanks to the great sensitivity of my associate Nicolas Bongard." In 1946 Schlumberger and Bongard opened a salon in New York City with clients including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Bunny Mellon and Babe Paley.

In 1956 Tiffany's asked Schlumberger to begin designing for the firm. Schlumberger remains one of only four designers that Tiffany & Co. has permitted to sign their jewelry; the others are Paloma Picasso, Elsa Peretti and Frank Gehry.

Schlumberger Fish Bracelet, sapphires, red spinels and diamonds in platinum and 18k yellow gold

Another extraordinary pink gem, this spectacular oval kunzite is sitting in an intricate basket of platinum, encrusted with diamonds in a floral motif.  I just love this mounting - combining round brilliant cut diamonds with marquise and pear shaped diamonds accented with swirls.  A statement ring to last a lifetime!

Kunzite Ring, 25.29ct kunzite set with diamonds in platinum

Another amazing piece featuring Montana sapphires - beautifully designed and oh so feminine.

 Montana Sapphire Butterfly Bracelet, cabochon sapphires and diamonds

A gorgeous tanzanite as the centerpiece framed by swirls of diamonds - perfect!

 Tanzanite and Diamond Necklace, 40.06ct tanzanite with 34.86ct of diamonds 

Are we a fan of Art Deco?!  Yes, yes, yes!  The 1920-30s, my favorite era.  A time when the jewelry designs mirrored the architectural designs - clean, streamlined, geometric forms with symmetry and bold colors. What an amazing bracelet!  Bravo Tiffany!

 Deco Fan Bangle, diamonds in platinum with black lacquer

The Blue Book Collection focuses on the most beautiful gemstones in the world.  Since 1837, Tiffany gemologists have scoured the earth to introduce gems never before seen.  This 175ct morganite is one such stone and has a feminine peachy-pink hue and is set among fluid swirls of sparkling diamonds all in platinum. Would you ever need another necklace - I think not!  Patricia has chosen this one as her Gem to Remember.  To her, this is quintessential Tiffany - a Drop Dead Gorgeous, unique gemstone, finely set with diamonds in metal that moves and swirls.  Who would not love this fabulous necklace?? 

Tiffany Anniversary Morganite Necklace, 175ct morganite "tied" with a diamond bow in platinum
Patricia's Gem to Remember

Remember seeing this on the big screen this year?!  Michelle Williams wore so many of the spectacular pieces that Tiffany's designed for the Great Gatsby film directed by Baz Lurhmann. What a brilliant idea and collaboration with Catherine Martin!  I could hardly pay attention to the movie because I was so focused on seeing the jewelry!

Savoy Headpiece, diamonds and freshwater cultured pearls in platinum from 
The Great Gatsby Collection

I fell in love with this bracelet immediately - the pavé work is stunning - all you see are the vibrant colored gemstones accented with diamonds.  Magnificent!

The Seurat Bangle, orange spessartite garnets, yellow sapphires, diamonds, green tsavorite garnets, and fancy sapphires in 18k white gold

Rare black opals and Montana sapphires - what a combination - enhanced by the elegant open framework of the platinum butterfly.

 Montana Sapphire & Black Opal Butterfly Brooch, diamonds, sapphires, opals in platinum

This platinum ring makes me breathless!  The rose cut diamonds forming the petals of the flower are just exquisite.  And let's not forget the round brilliant cut diamonds encrusting the shank. What a design!  And the center fancy vivid green diamond - talk about "one-of-a-kind!"

Fancy Vivid Green Diamond Ring, 1.21ct fancy cut green diamond with rose cut colorless diamonds

Elegant, sophisticated, timeless, gorgeous, remarkable - need I say more!  And top it off with a fancy colored diamond in the center.

Yellow Diamond Daisy Medallion, 3.60ct yellow diamond with colorless diamonds and 
Keshi and cultured pearls in platinum

Why did we ever stop wearing tiaras?! And this tiara is so versatile - it includes a detachable bracelet accented with 9 fancy intense yellow diamonds.  Please, oh please!

Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond Tiara, yellow diamonds in 18k gold and white diamonds in platinum

The color of tanzanite is like no other gem - exotic, rare, unique and unbelievably special. What a ring!
Tanzanite Ring, 8 fancy cut tanzanites with diamonds in platinum from The Great Gatsby Collection

The attention to detail in this bracelet is out-of-this-world!  The carved tsavorite leaves and the tanzanite flowers set with baguette and round brilliant cut diamonds, accented with fancy yellow diamonds - each stone handset with precision and perfection!  And you know, Tiffany & Co. was responsible for bringing both tanzanite (1967) and tsavorite (1974) to market.

Tanzanite and Tsavorite Bracelet, tsavorite garnets, tanzanites and white & yellow 
diamonds in platinum

And let us not forget the Tiffany windows at the NYC flagship store - always a treat to "window shop" at Holiday time strolling 5th Avenue.  Carrying on the tradition that Gene Moore started over 50 years ago, Tiffany's transforms the windows into miniature worlds of fantasy and beauty.  The windows have long been a magnate for pedestrians who gaze with delight!

Snow-covered homes glow with holiday warmth and Tiffany Soleste rings

This year snowy NY streets come alive with the magic of the Tiffany Blue Box

 A flurry of snow and Tiffany diamond jewelry

A row of elegant townhouses, imagined along New York's Upper East Side, festooned with white and yellow diamond jewelry

 All is calm, all is bright... with the Tiffany setting

All images courtesy Tiffany & Co. unless otherwise stated.
For more information and even more gorgeous jewelry, please visit the website

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