Updated: Mar 4
When Tiffany & Co. was founded, the world was a completely different. Imagine a world without cars, television, radio, or any of the conveniences we take for granted now. One hundred and seventy-five years has seen a great many companies come and go but Tiffany & Co. is still here, and to this day they continue their groundbreaking innovation, the innovation that makes their jewelry desired above all other jewelry and makes their brand a household name.
In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany borrowed $1000 from his father and opened a store with his partner, John B. Young. There, they began a legacy that to this day represents quality and commitment to excellence. If only for the fact that they were the first store in history to regularly use price tags, their position in business history would be secure. However, they rapidly became known for embracing a uniquely American style of design that parted from the over-zealous opulence of Europe at the time and instead sought elegance, simplicity, and natural inspiration.
Their efforts paid off. In 1867, the company won the grand prize for silver at the Paris Exposition. It was unheard of for an American company to win such a prize. The company didn’t slow down. Thanks to Tiffany & Co, the United States adopted standards such as the British Standard for silver and the metric carat for diamond weight. Later, the company created standards that became the basis for the Gemological Institute of America’s grading system.
By 1900, the company had more than a thousand employees. However, perhaps their most impactful contribution to society came fourteen years earlier, when they introduced the world to what was essentially the first modern engagement ring. While engagement rings existed prior to then, they were almost always set in bezels, circles of metal that allowed only the face of the ring to be visible. Tiffany’s design lifted the ring up on prongs so that the entire diamond could catch the light, and that design is the standard for today.
From Audrey Hepburn having breakfast there in the classic film to their signature blue box, Tiffany & Co. remains the premier name in jewelry. In many ways, the history of Tiffany & Co. is the history of jewelry in America. There’s no finer piece of craftsmanship an eager hand can slip onto the ring finger of a future bride.