A household name that will never be forgotten, Tiffany & Co. has remained an essential part of the jewelry industry for almost two centuries. Trailblazing the standards of jewelry, Tiffany has become the go to brand for all occasions. When someone thinks of the name Tiffany, they may conjure up the image of Audrey Hepburn with her iconic black dress and pearls eating breakfast in front of the infamous flagship store.
More often than not, we think about the iconic blue box and what may be lying within. Many know the name, but few know the history and the legacy that continues. From their very start to the present, we are taking a trip through time to explore what defines Tiffany & Co.
Making a start in 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young established a fancy goods store in New York City known as Tiffany & Co. This store was established as a place to sell luxury goods and by 1845, they established the first direct mail catalogue in the United States, benchmarking the beginning of marketing luxury goods.
For many who don’t know what a mail catalogue is, this style of marketing publication was invented as a way to order goods from the comfort of your home. Although it is not a popular marketing tactic nowadays because of the internet and apps, this allowed customers for years to order goods and have it either shipped to their home or to a retail store.
Making Headlines and Starting a Standard
Tiffany & Co. has a long history of accomplishments and milestones that set in stone their legacy. Much of their accomplishments came from working in conjunction with the government, Hollywood, artists, and even sports teams. Tiffany & Co. also created their own standards and established firsts for the public that are still widely known and used to this day.
By 1848, the company was established as the first major jeweler to sell gemstones like diamonds in the United States. Not only were they the first to sell gemstones, in 1851, Tiffany & Co. instituted the .925 standard for sterling silver that is still used to this day. Many brands, not just Tiffany, employ this standard for their jewelry such as David Yurman and John Hardy. The .925 standard indicates that the metal combination consists of 92.5% silver and the remaining percentage indicates other metal alloys.
A Return to Tiffany®, indeed. In 1851, we introduced silver with a purity of .925 to the United States. Dubbed “sterling silver” and signified by a stamp bearing the same number, it remains the official American standard to this day. #TheTiffanyArchive pic.twitter.com/oVnLKgIteF
— Tiffany & Co. (@TiffanyAndCo) April 9, 2021
Here are some other notable moments from their history:
1868: Made gold luxury items available to the American public.
1885: Redesigned the United States Great Seal.
1886: The Tiffany Setting became the classic style for engagement rings.
1878: Tiffany purchases the “Tiffany Diamond,” a 128.54 carat piece cut from a 287.42 carat fancy yellow diamond.
1940: The NYC flagship store is opened on 57th street and Fifth Avenue.
If there are a few things Tiffany & Co. is known for, their collaborations with artists to create coveted collections and cinematic appearances are some to remember. In 1961, the NYC flagship store made its debut with Audrey Hepburn in the Hollywood favorite “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and since then has been seen in other films as well. Along with Hollywood appearances there also came collaborations with the National Football League (NFL) in 1967 and the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1978 to create some of their iconic trophies. With all of these collaborations, Tiffany & Co. also shifted their style and designs to work in conjunction with artists to create memorable collections.
If you are a Tiffany enthusiast, you must know all of their artist collaborations and some of Tiffany’s most memorable collections. Jean Schlumberger, Elsa Peretti, and Paloma Picasso are the names to remember because with each artist comes collections that still continue on today.
The first artist to join the helm in 1956, Jean Schlumberger introduced whimsical designs by combining gemstones and gold in different sizes and colors with the natural beauty of wild creatures. These pieces are extravagant and well worth the top dollar you will pay for them.
In 1974, Elsa Peretti joins and infuses her modern designs to Tiffany jewelry, bringing life back to their pieces. With her inclusion, collections such as the Open Heart, Bean, Teardrop, Bone Cuffs, Wave and more made their way into fashionista’s jewelry collections. One of her most memorable collections, Diamonds by the Yard established an everyday wear collection that involved diamonds.
Paloma Picasso, daughter of the infamous artist Pablo Picasso and painter Françoise Gilo, makes her start with Tiffany & Co. in 1980 by introducing street art into jewelry. Inspired by New York City’s Graffiti, her collection embodies the designs you would see on the streets making Tiffany & Co. go in a whole new direction.
There are multiple collections Tiffany is known for and many continue to collect as they reinvent and create more. Some of these infamous collections include:
Return to Tiffany Collection (RTT)
Tiffany T Collection
Tiffany Keys Collection
Of all these collections, the Return to Tiffany is one of the longest running of all of their creations. Starting with just a simple heart shaped key ring in 1969, this one piece set into motion the starts of an iconic history. Considered as a Valentine’s Day present, the key ring featured the iconic “Please Return to Tiffany & Co. New York” embossing with a serial number so that it could be returned if it was lost. Although the serial number is no more, the RTT still continues on today as staple must-have for every jewelry box.
Sustainability and philanthropy has become a very special initiative for the company, which all began around 1995. It all started with their efforts to dissuade the construction of a gold mine near Yellowstone National Park and only continued from there. We have seen them make plenty of large donations to efforts like conserving the Great Barrier Reef, preservation of wild animals, taking charge in minimizing greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, and more. In fact, by 2000 the company established the Tiffany & Co. Foundation a commitment directed at conservation and art. With all of these efforts, by the year 2020, Tiffany & Co. announced that they awarded over $85 million in grants over the years, an honorable feat for many companies.
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation is proud to donate $1 million to help protect and restore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Learn more about how you can help through the @GBRFoundation #OutOfTheBlueBox Reef Innovation Challenge. 📷: YEN-YI LEE pic.twitter.com/z5I3TiFJal
— Tiffany & Co. (@TiffanyAndCo) July 18, 2018
The world of jewelry continues to change and mold into something new, but still maintains its role in the fashion industry. Paving the way for how jewelry is created, sold, and marketed, Tiffany & Co. established a long lasting legacy that continues to expand and making them a pioneer for the industry. Although we did not cover all of Tiffany & Co’s proud and extensive history, there is still one thing that remains true…all fashionistas should have at least one Tiffany & Co. piece in their collection no matter the style.
Tiffany & Co. The Tiffany & Co. Timeline. https://www.tiffany.com/world-of-tiffany/the-world-of-tiffany-timeline.
Tiffany & Co. Tiffany Milestone: Our Legacy of Sustainability.