Tiffany’s Colorful History

True to its reputation as a leader in American style, Tiffany proved this summer that it takes more than just jewels to stay in tune with consumers.

The retail giant packed the power of its pedigree into a two-month exhibit at its Fifth Avenue flagship store. The exhibit captured today’s trend toward color through a retrospective display of gemstones from the company’s 147-year history.

“Colors of Adornment: The Jewelry and Gemstones of Tiffany & Co.” displayed 50 objects drawn primarily from Tiffany archives. The exhibit comprised three sections, divided thematically: “The Legacy of George Kunz,” “Café Society,” and “A Tradition Continues.” Each section focused not only on the jewels but also on the designers who created them. Displayed in Tiffany’s windows were watercolor interpretations of the exhibition by fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo.

The first section focused on gemologist George Frederick Kunz, who traveled the world in the late 19th century gathering gemstones for Tiffany designers. The second dealt with the first half of the 20th century and featured cocktail-style pieces with colorful stones and elaborate gold work, jewelry associated with the socialites and celebrities of the 1940s and 1950s. The third part of the exhibit brought the Tiffany tradition into the present, with jewelry featuring modern stones like tanzanite and tsavorite.