Monday, September 26, 2011

Tiffany Diamonds

The story of Tiffany & Co is a quintessential American success story.


And it's a fabulous one.

Tiffany & Co was originally founded in NYC as a Fancy Goods store by Charles Lewis Tiffany in 1837. In the beginning, the store carried many luxury goods and jewelry imported from Europe.

Over time, Charles Tiffany grew his store from its beginnings as a distributor of European fancy goods to one of the world's most prestigious jewelry makers, a position previously dominated by the French, English and European jewelry houses.

What I found most appealing was not so much that Tiffany became a worldwide success during the Gilded Age of America, but that Tiffany grew to prominence by incorporating American minerals and pearls and by developing American skills and craftsmanship, relinquishing its dependence on Europe.


And the creativity! Tiffany aligned its store with talented designers and artists and promoted the arts in NYC as part of attracting wealthy clientele. Tiffany also introduced the use of colored stones such as aquamarines and pink tourmaline in combination with diamonds...a mixture not typically practiced in courtly Europe.

In the mid-19th century, Lewis Tiffany opened a store in Paris which gave Tiffany & Co. a presence on European soil; first as a friendlier place for Americans to purchase the finest European jewelry; and later, embedding the company in the heart of European commerce and industry.

Due to the revolutions in 1830 and 1848 in France, the price of diamonds plummeted and Tiffany took advantage by buying up as many diamonds as they could find capital for. Additionally, they were the most significant buyer of the French Crown Jewels in 1887 and became one of the dominant displays at the Exposition Universalle in Paris in 1889.

Tiffany was known for its magnificent and glittering diamond displays that drew large crowds and left the competition dim by comparison...and from an American jeweler.

It was commented that, as women would catch glimpses of these dazzling displays, "they are drawn toward them with magnet-like force and velocity, and with bewildered eyes become as riveted and immobile in position as pillars." (p. 58) In fact, those that "suffer dizziness had best avoid Tiffany's displays." (*giggle* -- love that!)

As a tribute to Tiffany's heritage, I wanted to incorporate "mesmerizing", "dazzling" and "glittering" into my Breakfast at Tiffany's block.

And so I turned to the jewelry and designs of Tiffany itself. And my "bible" for research and study was this book, Bejewelled by Tiffany: 1837-1987


It's fabulous. I soaked up every word, every image.

And it was wonderful to see the design illustrations for many of the pieces published alongside pictures of the completed works of jewelry...


In fact, to me, the designs began to look like seam treatments.

I decided to make at least one seam treatment on my block inspired by one of the Tiffany jewelry designs.

Ultimately, I chose this necklace from page 160 designed circa 1900 as inspiration for a seam...


I loved the delicate swags of flowers and diamonds...*sigh*

And that dazzling, lacy effect seemed perfect for my block...


I used YLI silver machine embroidery thread for the background...and 15/0 white gold and silver-lined crystal seed beads, and tiny 2mm crystal rose montees as an attempt to capture the feel of the necklace garlands on my seam.


Having studied the history of Tiffany & Co., I am just as enamored of the American-born and bred company as my friend, Holly Golightly.

Tiffany & Co. was also supportive of the movie and Miss Audrey Hepburn. In fact, Ms. Hepburn appeared in promotional photos for the movie wearing a Tiffany necklace and showcasing the Tiffany diamond, the world's largest and finest canary-colored diamond...


The necklace was not used in the actual movie and the Tiffany diamond was later re-set by artist Jean Schlumberger into this whimsical and asymmetrical brooch...


Isn't it great?! It's often on display at the 5th Avenue store in NYC so maybe one day I'll get to see it in person.

Soooo....here's where my block stands today.


It's getting there. I have about two more significant elements to work on. One will be gloves, an arm and a coffee cup for Audrey and I have no idea how I'm going to pull that one off.

And another one is a special piece of jewelry which will go just above the Tiffany marquee...and just might require another lace flower...

That plus a few seam treatments and the addition of tiny details should get me very close to finished. I sure will be sad when it's all over.

Until next time, be dazzled or dazzling...whichever suits you...

29 comments:

a2susan said...

Your block is absolutely marvelous! Thank you for sharing the story of Tiffany's development and the creativity of its designers.
Somewhere along the line you may have said this, but what are you planning on doing with this block?

Carol said...

Once again you dazzle us with not only your stitches, but the interesting history of the subject that inspired you!

Audrey Hepburn was always one of my favorite actresses as I grew up. I loved watching the "old" movies on TV. She was a pretty amazing woman in the real world too.

Thanks also for a little bit of history. My grandmother was born in 1884 and I love finding out a little bit more of what the world was like in her era.

Vicki W said...

Dazzling indeed! Your work always makes me sigh because my eyes are so happy!

Marty52 said...

Fantabulous, Ms. Susan. You really nailed that necklace... errr... seam treatment. :)

ga447 said...

It is all about Audrey and Tiffany's. I use to go to work with my mom in Manhattan and past Tiffany's all the time... not realizing what it was. Love the photos.

Beth Lea said...

Wow, what a post!

*speechless with mouth open*

Dees said...

I just love the way you take us on a journey and grant us a peak into your inspiration!

Sheila said...

Oh My Goodness!

*Propping mouth shut.* I LOVE your seam treatment.

Wow! Susan, every time I think you couldn't possibly outdo yourself, you do. I love it, love it, love it.

Thanks for the peek behind your design process. How fun! Great job and a huge pat on the back.

Coeur de freesia said...

Your work is such a delight. Thank you for adding a sense to your embroidery, this makes it even more interesting.
Kisses from France

flower friend said...

I have been dazzled by the detail you have put into this piece. Each part carefully considered. I saw the Bejewelled by Tiffany exhibition at Somerset House in London 2006 (it only seems like yesterday) and I was in awe of the craftmanship and beauty then. You have reawakened that time and it brings back fond memories. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Tiffany & I go way back...my great-grandfather was a craftsman & made things for them after he came to America. :)

Wendy said...

Once again this seam treatment is just stunning! Thank you also for the history lesson on Tiffany's....This block is so full of beauty and will be a standout in any crowd......

Catherine said...

You never cease to amaze me!! I think the reason why is due to that fact that your love for your project "topics" just shines through! Can't wait to see how you complete this one!

Createology said...

Your dedication to studying all things Tiffany and Co. is apparent in your beautiful stitching and details. This seam detail of the necklace treatment is exquisite. I am in awe of your handwork.

Suztats said...

Wow! Absolutely gorgeous! I love the fact you did so much research to make your piece unique. You capture the flair and magic of Tiffany.
I love this.

Judy S. said...

You always have such interesting post, Susan, not to mention your fabulous stitching. This block is amazing! I'm sure glad you are keeping it! Didn't you already do a cup on your Alice block? As for gloves, maybe you could use ultra suede and then applique them? I can't wait to see what you come up with though!

Vicky~ stichr ~ said...

{.................}
that's me being speechless!

Elizabeth said...

All of your wonderful history lessons about Tiffany and how it became what it is, reminded me of a book that I read at the begininng of the summer. The book is a novel by Susan Vreeland called Clara and Mr. Tiffany. This Mr Tiffany is the son of Charles Comfort. this Mr Tiffany is the Tiffany of Tiffany stained glass- it was very interesting and a good read. He would only allow women to be his glass pickers to choose and place the glass for his creations, as they had much more refined sensibilities as to color and tone and value. (according to Mr. T)

You continue to dazzle me with your amazing attention to detail and the beauty of your work!!!

BTW, if you know of anyone who was liking my sun prints I am now selling them in my Etsy shop!!





http://www.amazon.com/Clara-Mr-Tiffany-Susan-Vreeland/dp/1400068169/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317172398&sr=1-1

Teresa said...

You have not only gone into great detail in the piece but so much research to make sure everything is just right. It is even more special knowing all that you have put into the piece.
On my 25th anniversary my husband presented me with a blue Tiffany's box with a small heart necklace. It is wonderful knowing Tiffany's history.
Thank you for sharing.
Teresa's Heartfelt Stitches

shirley said...

Your block is stunning. Your expertise with beading is evident, and is a delight to see.

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful work with us, and for the interesting story of the rise of the Tiffany jewellery stores.

Mary Ann Tate said...

Your work is absolutely stunning:)

Ingrid Mida said...

What an interesting history of the store. Those baubles are just glorious. Don't you wish you could try one on?
Your work has so much love and joy in it Susan. I find it incredibly uplifting to come to visit you here.

Anonymous said...

You are simply amazing. I've been following your blog for about a year now. Your work leaves me speechless. What a wonderful wonderful talent and imagination you have. Linda S from West Chester PA.

Rachel said...

The necklace-inspired seam treatment is really dazzling. Wonderful!

Anonymous said...

The French Revolution was before Lewis Tiffany's time. He started buying diamonds from French aristocrats who fled after Louis Philippe I was forced to abdicate in 1848.

Cathy K said...

Your block is definitely destined to become an American classic, too! And your stupendous work should at the vey least warrant a footnote in the next edition of Bejewelled by Tiffany!!

I am waiting with bated breath to see your next addition!

Chris Daly said...

Wonderful post Susan. Great story and it is so fun to see where you are drawing your inspiration. This block will be sensational.

Anonymous said...

Well spotted about the necklaces looking like seam treatments!! Love this idea!

Balbina said...

You are amazing I love your blog :-)

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