1830s and 40s
Founded in 1838 by Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812–1902) and his partner, J. B Young, as Tiffany & Young, a “fancy goods” store on Broadway in New York. Success was swift and sure, and another partner, Ellis, joined in 1841. In the 1940s, Charles Lewis Tiffany introduced the now iconic signature colour blue.
Charles Lewis Tiffany took sole control in of the company in 1853 when the business was renamed Tiffany & Co.
In 1870, the business moved to a palatial store in Union Square, and flourished through the 1870s, becoming the destination for New York’s fashionable and wealthy elite. Developing its own design identity, Tiffany was known for Japonesque-style silverware and for diamond jewellery: Charles Tiffany became the “King of Diamonds.”
In 1878, the company purchased the Tiffany diamond, an immense canary yellow stone from the new South African deposits. Once cut, the diamond weighed 128.54 carats.
In 1886, the Tiffany setting for diamond solitaire rings was introduced. Tiffany won numerous awards at international exhibitions: in Paris, in 1889, the naturalistic jewels designed by Paulding Farnham, later director of jewellery, showcased American themes and used materials, gemstones and pearls that were sourced by George Frederick Kunz, Tiffany’s celebrated chief gemologist.
On his father’s death in 1902, Louis Comfort Tiffany took over the reins, becoming Tiffany’s first design director.
1920s & 30s
The company’s American aesthetic blossomed through the Art Deco years of the 1920s and 30s, evolving into the late 30s and 40s Retro or cocktail style, which triumphed at the 1939 World’s Fair.
Tiffany & Co moved to its current global flagship store on Fifth Avenue, forever associated with Audrey Hepburn, as Holly Golightly, in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).
In 1956, Chairman Walter Hoving invited the extraordinarily talented designer-jeweller, Jean Schlumberger, to open his own salon in the store, the first of a series of named designers.
1970s & 80s
Introduced by design director John Loring, whose eye and vision shaped Tiffany's style in the late 20th century, jewellery designers Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso joined in 1974 and 1980, respectively.
Reed Krakoff occupies the newly-created role of Artistic Director of Tiffany & Co.
Lead image photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Vivienne Becker is a jewellery historian and a contributing editor of the Financial Times’s How to Spend It.