The Australian - Wish Magazine
Gifts of nature
The dazzling gemstones of Tiffany & Co’s new high jewellery collection draww on the brilliant colours of land, sea, earth and sky
‘Typically it takes us several years to find the perfect gemstone. It’s our quest to be always looking to find the rarest, most intense and spectacular gemstones nature has to offer’
IF you ask Tiffany & Co’s chief gemologist Victoria Wirth Reynolds, to nominate her preferred piece from the company’s latest 138-piece Blue Book collection of high jewellery – themed Colors of Nature – she doesn’t hang back. “As a gemologist, I would have to say my favourite piece is the multiple gemstone necklace [pictured on previous page] that features seven varieties of gemstones – aquamarines; tanzanites; pink, orange and green tourmalines; a rubellite – and of course that amazing morganite that’s front and centre. It just speaks to the collection and the colours of nature in a way that only gemstones can. It really echoes the rainbow of colour that we see in nature in one piece and it’s really the showstopper of the entire collection.”
ReynoldsjoinedTiffany&Coin1987andhasheldseveralmanagement positions over the years. In 2020 she became the first female chief gemologist in the company’s 184-year history. She isn’t convinced, however, that her gender is an attribute that will radically change the company’s approach to its products. “I think it’s just more important that I have a huge passion for jewellery and gemstones,” she says. “I think it’s that appreciation that really makes a difference more than anything else.”
The 2021 Blue Book collection, Tiffany’s highest collection of high jewellery, is delineated into four themes within the broad Colors of Nature concept – land, sea, earth and sky – and was designed by Reed Krakoff, Tiffany’s chief artistic officer from 2017 until late last year, when the company was acquired by LVMH. Prices for the collection range from $US50,000 to more than $US5 million for these one-of-a-kind pieces. A collection of this calibre and complexity can take years to create, with Reynolds holding the ultimate responsibility for accumulating the gems required to realise Karakoff’s designs.
“It depends on the piece, but typically it takes us several years to find the perfect gemstone,” she says. “It’s our quest to be always looking to find the rarest, most intense and spectacular gemstones that nature has to offer. Andofcourseourstandardsareexceptionallyhighforwhatstoneswedeem acceptable, so that balance typically means it’s going to take us several years.” To make the cut, she says gemstones really have to speak to her.
As chief gemologist, Reynolds would normally spend much of the year travelling the world to inspect stones. And even though COVID-19 brought a halt to international travel, she says that it hasn’t really had an effect on Tiffany & Co finding the world’s best gemstones. “I’m very pleased to say that even a pandemic does not have an impact on us finding the most beautiful stones in the world. We use Zoom like everyone else, but basically the stones come to me now. With gemstones and diamonds, ultimately you have to see them in person.”
Reynolds works closely with the jewellery designers and creators at Tiffany to find the stones needed to realise their vision, but there are times, she says, when she sees a stone and buys it without a specific use in mind. “Sometimes I find something and it’s such a surprise and I know that I literally have to have it,” she says. “It might not have been in the plan, but I will tuck it away for years and wait for the right moment to work with the design team to put it in a collection.”
But sometimes the jewellery design comes first. An example of that is one of the more distinctive pieces in the collection: a brooch that can also be worn as a pendant (pictured on opening page) in the shape of a bird sculpted from carved white agate, with a 18k yellow gold wings finished in baguette and round diamonds of more than 9 carats. “We knew we reallywantedtohaveahardstoneforthebodyofthebirdandwedecidedonwhiteagatefor a number of reasons,” says Reynolds. “We love the warmth of the agate. We also loved the fact that it has a bit of natural veining to it and we really wanted a stone that had a really soft sculptural feel. The bird was really a work in progress and it’s one of the more extraordinary pieces in the collection … it’s a small masterpiece.”
Technically there are 79 Colors of Nature specific designs in the 2021 Blue Book collection. However it has been supplemented with 59 Jean Schlumberger pieces. Eight of the pieces in the Colours of Nature collection have been created with custom-designed boxes – or vessels, as Tiffany refers to them – fashioned from gold, silver, or rock crystal by the Tiffany hollowware workshop, a department of the company that dates back to 1851.
Thevesselsweredesignedtoshowcaseandcomplementthedesignofthespecificjewels they house, but, says Reynolds, the ultimate way to showcase the pieces is for them to be worn. “Jean Schlumberger always said a piece of jewellery is really never finished until it’s worn and we very much feel that way about all our high jewellery at Tiffany, because it’s really the wearer that brings out that special magic.”