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...