The 1830s in New York City were a time of dynamic growth, extravagant tastes and golden opportunity for
anyone with a little capital and an abundance of imagination. In 1837, New York became the proving
ground for twenty-five-year-old Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young, who opened a “stationery and
fancy goods” store with a $1,000 advance from Tiffany's father.
On their way to the new emporium at 259 Broadway, fashionable ladies in silks, satins, and beribboned
bonnets faced a gauntlet of narrow streets teeming with horses and carriages and the hurly-burly of city
life. At Tiffany & Co. they discovered a newly emerging “American style” that departed from the European
design aesthetic, which was rooted in religious and ceremonial patterns and the Victorian era’s mannered
opulence. The young entrepreneurs were inspired by the natural world, which they interpreted in exquisite
patterns of simplicity, harmony and clarity. These became the hallmarks of Tiffany design, first in silver
hollowware and flatware, and later in jewelry.
In 1878 Tiffany acquired one of the world's largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds from the Kimberley
diamond mines in South Africa. Under the guidance of Tiffany's eminent gemologist, Dr. George Frederick
Kunz, the diamond was cut from 287.42 carats to 128.54 carats with 82 facets (most brilliant-cut
diamonds have only 58), which gave the stone its legendary fire and brilliance. Designated the Tiffany
Diamond, the stone became an exemplar of Tiffany craftsmanship.
In 1886 Tiffany introduced the engagement ring as we know it today—the Tiffany® Setting— an innovation
that lifts the diamond above the band with six platinum prongs, allowing a more complete return of light
from the stone and maximizing its brilliance. Today the Tiffany Setting continues as one of the most
popular engagement ring styles and shining symbol of the jeweler’s diamond authority.
The legendary style of Tiffany design is perhaps best represented by the annual Blue Book Collection,
featuring Tiffany’s and the world’s most spectacular and glamorous jewels. Initially published in 1845,
the Tiffany Blue Book was the first such catalogue to be distributed in the U.S. Today’s version showcases
the elite of diamonds and colored gemstones in custom-designed settings, crafted with time-honored
jewelry techniques and inspired by jewels in the Tiffany & Co. Archives.