What is the history of Tiffany?

Tiffany was founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. They were young in Brooklyn, Connecticut, as a “stationery and fancy goods emporium”, and had the help of Charles Tiffany’s father, who financed the store for only $1,000 with profits from a cotton mill. While the stores initially sold a range of stationery products, when it was taken over by Charles Tiffany in 1853, it began to focus on jewellery. Unlike many stores, at that time, they clearly marked prices on the products as sold only for cash and not credit. Charles was ambitious and fearless, with a pioneering spirit, which shows what is needed for a business to succeed.

Blue Book

Tiffany was of the first companies to run a successful mail-order system. The blue book was cutting edge at the time. Long before it was mainstream, and before the world had heard of online shopping, they had this book. It came to highlight the blue book collection, which was first printed in 1845, and is still going now as an annual publication. Unbelievably, it was first printed 49 years before Vogue magazine. The yearly catalogue had a cover in the iconic blue, and featured products that could be purchased by sending in a cheque. Nowadays, the catalogues are highly sought after at Auctions and can fetch a high price, but at the time they were a marketing device.

Gilded Age

In 1870, the company built a brand-new store at 15 Union Square West for the price of $500,000. It was described in a newspaper article by the New York times as a, “Palace of diamonds”. Tiffany broke new ground again and again. First via its ground-breaking pricing, then by mail-order, in order to expand his diamond empire. Charles Tiffany risked all of his profits in buying diamonds directly from French aristocrats. This helped set the new American style with a big, clean diamond at the centre. He also shocked the world by purchasing the French crown jewels, which were used in many designs. By this time, Tiffany & Co had established itself as the most iconic brand of jewellery.

The Tiffany Yellow Diamond

A yellow diamond of extraordinary quality, it is a symbol of quality and craftsmanship. Once cut, it was still 128 carats, and officially named “The Tiffany Diamond”. It is recognised as the world’s largest finest yellow diamond ever discovered, and has been worn twice, but never sold. It was worn once by Mrs Mary Whitehouse at the Tiffany Ball, and of course by Audrey Hepburn for the 1967 film, 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s.'

Tiffany in Modern Times

In modern times, Tiffany has struggled with sales as it has watered down its image price. From a brand that sold the most expensive diamonds in the world, to one that was in reach of most people. Tiffany has made mistakes in its appointments of CEO creative directors. Given Tiffany’s brand fame income was based on the successful gambles of Charles Tiffany, it’s not surprising that once he was removed from the helm, the business changed.

Pre-owned Tiffany Jewellery at Suttons & Robertsons

Browse our collection of pre-owned designer, vintage, antique, and luxury Tiffany Jewellery at S&R London Jewellers online here. Alternatively, you can visit us at our London Store to view your options in-person. 

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