Only two women have ever worn The Tiffany Diamond, and its illustrious history is one of screen stars and royalty.
In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany, just twenty five years old, borrowed one thousand dollars from his father and opened a stationary and fancy goods store with partner, John B. Young, at 259 Broadway in New York City. It is here that American style would be defined. Designs that were elegant and timeless, they began with silverware and quickly moved into jewelry design.
In 1886 Tiffany & Co. introduced the engagement ring as we know it today — the Tiffany® Setting —and the company prospered like never before. By the 20th century Tiffany & Co. was America’s finest and most renowned merchant of jewels, timepieces and luxury household accessories. They had over one thousand employees, and shops in London, Paris, and Geneva.
With the legacy set in motion, Tiffany designers have continued to impress new standards and revolutionize the jewelry industry for two centuries. Their collections have always effectively captured the essence of the times and have been an undeniable representation of glamour and luxury. None more famous or awe inspiring than the Tiffany Diamond.
One of the largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds in the world, the Tiffany Diamond has become a symbol of the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship established with the founding of Tiffany & Co. over eight generations ago. The 287.42-carat stone was purchased by Charles Lewis Tiffany for $18,000. The stone’s acquisition solidified Mr. Tiffany’s reputation as the “King of Diamonds” and made his enterprise the world’s diamond authority.
The rough stone was brought to Paris, where Tiffany’s chief gemologist, Dr. George Frederick Kunz, supervised the cutting of the diamond into a cushion-shape brilliant weighing 128.54 carats with an unprecedented 82 facets—24 more facets than the traditional 58-facet brilliant cut. The stone is just over an inch wide and seven-eighths of an inch from top to bottom.
CUT TO ENHANCE ITS BEAUTY AND RADIANT COLOR RATHER THAN SIZE, THE DIAMOND SPARKLES AS IF LIT BY AN INNER FLAME.
The Tiffany Diamond was the highlight of the jeweler’s awardwinning exhibits at the great world’s fairs, including the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition in Chicago; the 1901 Pan-american Exposition in Buffalo, New York; the 1933-34 Century of Progress in Chicago; and the 1939-40 World’s Fair in New York.
Later appearances included De Beers’ 100th anniversary celebration in Kimberley, South Africa in 1971; the re-opening of Tiffany’s stores in London in 1986 and Tokyo in 1996; and the 2006 Bejeweled by Tiffany exhibition at Somerset House in London. The diamond has appeared in the windows of the Fifth Avenue flagship store on one occasion. Tiffany’s renowned window designer Gene Moore placed the diamond in the hands of a floating gold wire angel for a 1955 holiday display. Passersby were amazed to see that the diamond was clearly visible from across the street.
Many people have asked if the Tiffany Diamond is for sale. Indeed, it once was. Tiffany’s November 17, 1972 advertisement in The New York Times wittily announced the un-set stone could be purchased for $5,000,000 (the equivalent of $25,800,000 today). The offer, however, was good for 24
hours and whether for reasons of thrift or disbelief, there were no buyers.
ONLY TWO WOMEN HAVE EVER WORN THE TIFFANY DIAMOND.
Mrs. Mary Whitehouse wore a lavish necklace set with the diamond for the 1957 Tiffany Ball in Newport, Rhode Island; and Audrey Hepburn® wore a Jean Schlumberger necklace of diamond ribbons surrounding the diamond in publicity photographs for the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Schlumberger also designed the now famous Bird on a Rock in which the diamond was mounted for the 1995 Schlumberger retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
For Tiffany’s 175th anniversary in 2012 this priceless gem was reset in a magnificent necklace of dazzling white diamonds, totaling over 120 carats. The necklace was a year in the making, and became the centerpiece of anniversary celebrations in Tokyo, Beijing, Dubai and New York City. Returning to its permanent place of honor on the Main Floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue store, the necklace ushered the Tiffany Diamond into a brilliant new era, with utmost respect for the stone and its great legacy.
In its only appearance in Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue windows, the Diamond is placed in the hands of a gold wire angel for a holiday display by famed window designer Gene Moore. The bright and shining stone could easily be seen from across the street. The Diamond highlights Tiffany’s exhibit at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. A rough diamond of 287.42 carats is discovered in the Kimberley mines of South Africa.
Tiffany and its magnificent Diamond receive top honors at the Pan-american Exposition in Buffalo. Charles Lewis Tiffany purchases the stone and sends it to Paris where it is cut to 128.54 carats. Officially named the Tiffany Diamond, it is deemed one of the world’s largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds.
TIFFANY & CO., T&CO. and TIFFANY are trademarks of Tiffany and Company. Audrey Hepburn® Trademark and Likeness Licensed by Licensing Artists LLC for Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti.
In a witty ad placed in The New York Times, Tiffany announces that the Diamond may be purchased for $5,000,000 (the equivalent of $25,800,000 today) within a 24-hour period. The Diamond appears as part of a celebration of the National Gem Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
A Jean Schlumberger retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris features the Diamond in his “Bird on a Rock” setting.
ean Schlumberger’s Ribbon Rosette necklace is et with the Diamond and worn by Audrey Hepburn® n publicity photographs for the film Breakfast at iffany’s. Hepburn later wrote of the gem in a letter o Tiffany & Co., borrowing the words of John Keats: A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
For the 175th anniversary of Tiffany’s founding, the Diamond is reset in a magnificent necklace of dazzling white diamonds. After appearing at anniversary celebrations around the world, the Diamond in its brilliant new setting returns to its permanent place of honor on the Main Floor of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue store.