In­side Tif­fany’s über-ex­clu­sive Blue Book.

The Blue Book col­lec­tion takes lux­ury up a notch.

ELLE (Canada) - - In­sider - By Lisa Gui­mond

stinky the oc­to­pus is the first to be claimed. He’s the most glam­orous cephalo­pod mol­lusc you’ll ever see, with coiled ten­ta­cles that are speck­led with tiny in­digo sap­phires, plump like droplets of wa­ter, and blue eyes to match. His most ar­rest­ing fea­ture? A gum-ball-size baroque pearl that’s so in­can­des­cent it’s hyp­notic. This ir­re­sistible lit­tle crea­ture—given his nick­name by Tif­fany & Co. de­sign di­rec­tor Francesca Am­fithe­atrof—is the Roll­sRoyce of fine jew­ellery. He’s also just one of over 200 pieces in this year’s highly cov­eted Blue Book col­lec­tion. But now this $221,000 gem is gone—sold the mo­ment he made his de­but. Good thing I didn’t get too at­tached!

Not that I ever re­ally stood a chance at own­ing Stinky. The buyer list for Tif­fany’s Blue Book col­lec­tion in­cludes only top cus­tomers from around the world who are flown to New York for pri­vate ap­point­ments. There is no bid­ding or ne­go­ti­at­ing; this is a first-in­vited, first-served af­fair for the com­pany’s big­gest clients. Jon King, Tif­fany’s se­nior vice-pres­i­dent, tells me that it’s not un­usual for clients to come to this an­nual event with the pieces they want to buy al­ready marked in the cat­a­logue. “They’ll come in and toss the book on the ta­ble with a Post-it note on a page and say ‘I want that one,’” he ex­plains. But for those who need guid­ance, John Lor­ing, who was Tif­fany’s de­sign di­rec­tor from 1979 to 2009, has some price­less ad­vice: “Peo­ple will al­ways say ‘What piece of jew­ellery shall I buy?’ I say ‘Well, the one you like; what other one would you buy?’”

The thing is, all the Blue Book pieces are out-of-this-world spec­tac­u­lar. They’re so lux­u­ri­ous that they prac­ti­cally defy cat­e­go­riza­tion. Case in point: the $3,282,000 en­gage­ment ring that Am­fithe­atrof reimag­ined as a Blue Book piece to cel­e­brate the 130th an­niver­sary of the iconic Tif­fany set­ting. The six-prong sig­na­ture de­sign was cre­ated by the com­pany’s founder, Charles Tif­fany, in 1886. At the time, it was cus­tom­ary to low-set the di­a­mond in the band, which meant that its shine was damp­ened. Po­si­tion­ing it above the band show­cases the di­a­mond’s max­i­mum bril­liance. To­day, it re­mains the best­selling Tif­fany en­gage­ment ring. Am­fithe­atrof used the raised-set­ting de­sign, but she su­per­sized the gem to an in­ter­nally flaw­less round bril­liant-cut 8.55-carat di­a­mond and added a round-di­a­mond pavé to the band.

Con­sid­er­ing the tech­ni­cal mer­its and rar­ity of a gem­stone are just part of Am­fithe­atrof’s ap­proach to de­sign­ing the col­lec­tion. “I get a vibe from stones,” she ex­plains. “Some are moody, and some are happy. I think that a stone has a char­ac­ter that can come across. There also has to be rhythm, drama, po­etry and mo­ments of quiet­ness and sen­su­al­ity in the de­sign.” And—sur­pris­ingly—Am­fithe­atrof in­sists that her pieces be prac­ti­cal. She picks up a di­a­mond-en­crusted plat­inum rope neck­lace to demon­strate how it ebbs and flows. “It’s ab­so­lutely liq­uid,” she says, as she twists and curls the piece, like a gar­den snake, in the palm of her hand. It’s so pli­able that it’s hard to be­lieve it’s made up of 776 di­a­monds, but it took years of en­gi­neer­ing to get it to move just so. “This is a piece that could be worn with a pair of jeans or a beau­ti­ful evening dress,” she says. It’s a sen­ti­ment that rings true for King as well. “Mod­ern women want pieces that are at once glam­orous and rel­e­vant,” he says.

What Am­fithe­atrof is do­ing—as Tif­fany’s first fe­male de­sign di­rec­tor—is rein­vent­ing the way we think about fine jew­ellery. By con­sid­er­ing wear­a­bil­ity, she is chang­ing how lux­ury is ex­pe­ri­enced. The fact that she’s also think­ing about how these pieces will trans­late as heir­looms many gen­er­a­tions from now, giv­ing them value that isn’t limited to their price tags, is a sign of chang­ing times. n

This 8.55carat-di­a­mond en­gage­ment ring is the Blue Book take on the clas­sic Tif­fany set­ting.

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