Tiffany & Co
Born in 1812, Charles Lewis Tiffany was just 25 when he and John Young opened the doors to their store ‘Tiffany and Young’ at 259 Broadway in New York City. He did so by borrowing $1000 from his father. The shop started by selling stationary and other goods. Within a few years they started selling jewelry that was imported from Europe some of which were set with diamonds, a more rare item for New York at the time. Charles also set up a catalog which products were able to be "mail ordered" a concept previously unknown in the United States. It was revolutionary and the business expanded rapidly. The expansion included adding a partner and then opening of an office in Paris, the acquisition of a silversmiths firm, and branching into manufacturing of their own jewelry. Both of Charles partners retired in 1853 and Charles Tiffany assumed full control of the company renaming it Tiffany & Co. His interest in diamonds grew and the success of his business allowed Charles Tiffany to acquire more important stones. In 1878 he bought a 287.42ct canary yellow diamond discovered in South Africa. The stone was cut in Paris into a 128.54ct cushion shaped gem named the Tiffany Diamond which the company still owns today. In 1886 he introduced the ‘Tiffany Setting’ a classic solitaire style. He kept pursuing diamonds and successfully outbid his competitors on 24 lots from the auction of the French Crown Jewels. At the auction he spent $480,000. This was greater than the next nine largest buyers combined in that auction. Some of those original gems were sold quickly in his retail store and others were remounted and displayed two years later at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle including a 25 carat center diamond which was featured in a necklace. Tiffany met and worked with George Frederick Kunz (Kunzite was named after him) and created a collection of jewels that were purchased by J.P. Morgan a wealthy financier and banker who became a staple in spending in the gemstone business. Kunz joined Tiffany in 1879 and traveled the world in search of gems and pearls for the company. The 1900 Paris Exposition was a great success for the company. Paul Farnham was the chief designer at Tiffany at the time and received two gold medals. Charles Tiffany died in 1902 and his son Louis Comfort Tiffany took control as Vice President and Art Director. Louis had a serious interest in art and art glass and in 1907 Tiffany & Co. opened a dedicated ‘Art Jewelry’ department for the manufacture and sale of his work including lamps, pottery, jewelry and glassware. In 1939 Tiffany exhibited at the New York World Fair. The following year the company moved to the corner of 5th Avenue and 57th Street where they remain today. Jean Schlumberger joined Tiffany & Co. in 1956 and captured the attention of the world especially when "Breakfast at Tiffany's" came out in 1961. Other designers saw the welcome of Jean Schlumberger and pursued their careers with Tiffany such as Elsa Peretti in 1974 and Paloma Picasso in 1980. The company continued until 2021 when it was sold.