We’re all familiar with that perfect shade of blue that can send your heart aflutter, but how much do you know about the history of the iconic Tiffany & Co. Jewelry? What’s the story behind the name featured on our favorite blue boxes?
Born Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1812, he was an entrepreneur and co-founder of Tiffany & Young. Together with his friend and business partner, John B. Young, Tiffany opened a stationary business in New York in 1837. Eventually, he bought out Young and another partner and renamed his store Tiffany & Co. as we know it today. Charles Tiffany died in New York in February 1902.
Rumor has it that on their first day of business, Tiffany & Young’s sales totaled $4.94. They kept going, though, and soon expanded with other upscale merchandise including jewelry and silverware. In 1841, Tiffany and Young added a third partner to their growing business, J.L. Ellis. The business was renamed Tiffany, Young & Ellis and after a few more years in business, the partners began manufacturing their own jewelry after which a location in Paris soon followed. The partnerships weren’t long-lived, though. In 1853, Charles Tiffany bought out both John Young’s and J.L. Ellis’ shares and once again renamed the business: Tiffany & Co.
The King of Diamonds
By the time the late 1800s rolled around, Tiffany & Co. was a well-established name. It was during this era of the business that Charles Tiffany purchased the famed “Tiffany diamond” for $18,000 (more than $400,000 in today’s dollars). The yellow South African diamond was on display at the Smithsonian at one point and made it’s way into popular culture in a publicity still for the 1961 movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Tiffany went on to purchase some of the French crown jewels, thereby, firmly establishing himself as the King of diamonds.
Beyond Charles Tiffany being the King of Diamonds, he also set the standard for Tiffany & Co. to be innovators in their industry. They created the first catalog – The Blue Book – which is still in print today, along with a handful of other specialty catalogs produced each season. There’s also the “Tiffany setting” with which we’re all familiar today, this six-prong setting configuration is the company’s signature engagement ring setting.
Charles Tiffany’s son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, became his successor and carried on the proud Tiffany family tradition of quality. His innovation came by light – he’s responsible for the famous Tiffany lamps and other glass items.
As iconic as the celebrities who don their jewels, Tiffany & Co. continues to innovate, not just by keeping up with the times, but by driving the styles of the times. Today’s latest innovation? The Tiffany HardWear collection, they describe it as “elegantly subversive” and note that the collection “embodies the power and edge of the city and the energy of its streets.” A visit to Tiffany & Co. is a must to view this stunning collection and to watch the film about the collection starring pop icon Lady Gaga.
Are you a collector of the Tiffany blue boxes? What’s your favorite piece? Share with us! To see the iconic influence that Tiffany & Co. has had in fashion and film, you’ll want to read our story, 7 Iconic Fashion Moments in Film.