Today in History... A master jeweller is born

Tiffany is a name that will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in jewellery or the decorative arts. This is thanks to Charles Tiffany, who entered the world in 1812.

Charles Tiffany set up what was later to be known as Tiffany & Co in 1837 with childhood friend John B Young, and following a slow start it became well-known for glassware, porcelain, cutlery, clocks and jewellery.

50 years later the firm even handled and sold a portion of the French crown jewels (Tiffany himself was decorated with the Legion d'Honneur). By the time Charles Tiffany died, the company was worth $2m.

The business is mentioned in the song Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, sung by Marilyn Monroe, referred to in the James Bond novel Diamonds are Forever (a female character is named Tiffany Case) and of course is high regarded by Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Tiffany and Co remains one of America's key names in collectible jewellery. By some reckonings, one of the ten most valuable pieces of jewellery in the world in 2009 was a Tiffany diamond pendant.

Tiffany and Co blue diamond ring
Tiffany and Co blue diamond ring

In 2009, a number of investment grade pieces of Tiffany jewellery were sold including a rectangular-shaped fancy intense blue diamond ring. This sold for HK$9m (US$1.2m) in December in a Hong Kong auction.

The Tiffany name is also heavily associated with glassware and lamps, thanks to Charles Tiffany's son Louis Comfort Tiffany.


Diamond image: Christie's

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