Fir-colored emeralds, a 95-carat melo melo pearl from a poodle-sized snail in the South China Sea, and red diamonds so rare that a stone barely exceeds the one-carat mark is well into the seven-figure range: these are elements of Tiffany & Co.’s new Blue Book collection, its annual release of exceptional fine jewelry pieces, which was unveiled in New York this week.
In the interest of creating a new intimacy with its highest spending customers, Tiffany has changed its formula this year to adapt to current times. While the jeweler had previously held galas or large exhibitions to sell pieces from its Blue Book collection, this year it took over a well-maintained five-story townhouse just north of the Pierre Hotel – marketing a series lounges and exhibition spaces to entertain customers with private one-on-one meetings.
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The idea was to delight loyal Tiffany collectors with the feeling of being invited into the brand’s own home, and so the jeweler aptly named the concept its Tiffany Townhouse. Authentic turn-of-the-century Tiffany lamps and flower arrangements by Emily Thompson, in-house demonstrations with diamond-setters and Tiffany hand-engravers, and a tea set seem to have turned a charm – a great part of the Blue Book collection sold out in the early days of installation, with some customers even walking out with their newly acquired pieces.
Tiffany’s Managing Director, Anthony Ledru, said of the concept, “The Tiffany Townhouse is the embodiment of the lifestyle approach we take. We are excited to deliver an immersive experience that showcases the world of Tiffany & Co., showcasing our heritage and artisan heritage.The townhouse allows guests to engage with the home in an intimate and personal setting and also brings art, architecture and an unparalleled bespoke offer to show off our extraordinary Blue Book collection.
The collection is something of a portal to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s early influence on Tiffany. Tiffany’s chief gemologist, Victoria Reynolds, said there’s continued focus on colored heritage gemstones like morganite and tanzanite, popularized by Tiffany founder Charles Lewis Tiffany. “People know about rubies, emeralds and sapphires, and of course Tiffany diamonds are the best, but they don’t really know about these lesser-known stones. This is where I feel so passionate about having these heirloom gemstones like kunzite, morganite, and tanzanite. It’s part of the tradition of what LVMH will want to do – raise the world’s most extraordinary diamonds and colored gemstones,” she said.
Upon entering the Tiffany Townhouse, attendees were greeted by the Tiffany Blue Basquiat painting recently featured in the jeweler’s advertising campaign with Jay-Z and Beyoncé Knowles. The entrance was also marked by a display case featuring the 128.54 carat Tiffany diamond – worn by Knowles in campaign images. Tiffany has partnered with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Sharon Coplan Hurowitz to exhibit pieces from The MET 150, a portfolio of special works by contemporary artists co-published by Coplan Hurowitz.
Each floor of the townhouse has been marketed with elements from this year’s Blue Book offering. The residence’s music room housed pieces from the Tiffany Blue Book that take on the theme of the colors of nature – with unique creations, each of which spanned two years.
Among the most special pieces in the room: a walnut-shaped solid gold travel clock; a high jewelry gold watch with 197 diamonds on its bracelet totaling 24 carats; special pieces of Australian black opal and reflective diamond and emerald earrings, in which pear-shaped emeralds weighing 13 carats can stand out – turning into more modest diamond studs.
Embroidered on silk masks worn by every Tiffany employee on site, Jean Schlumberger’s signature “Bird on a Rock” brooch silhouette, designed for Tiffany in the 1960s. This year’s Blue Book collection is half of creations under the signature of Schlumberger – a designer known for his surreal jewelry designs, first for Elsa Schiaparelli and later for Tiffany.
“I think you might take it as a sign of our exuberance,” Reynolds said of Tiffany’s renewed interest in Schlumberger’s historical works. “I think you’ll probably see a bigger emphasis there. Schlumberger is only present at Tiffany & Co. and I think that really reinforces who we are, making unexpected and extraordinary craftsmanship.
In the Schlumberger Gallery – already sold through much of its product – Tiffany revealed a roadmap for putting a new emphasis on one of their legacy collections. While Schlumberger’s designs have always been an important part of the jeweler’s arsenal, Tiffany’s new management sees them as a key advantage that deserves more resources and attention.
For Blue Book, an assortment of one-of-a-kind Schlumberger pieces had either been remade with stones or produced for the first time, drawing inspiration from Schlumberger’s sketch archive.
“It would have looked different if you had walked in here four days ago – once something is sold, it is sold [and we take it off the display] — you wouldn’t want somebody to see it and fall in love with it,” Reynolds said.
“I think [LVMH] was an incredible asset. They love, LOVE fine jewelry and Schlumberger, know-how and authenticity. They’ve been so involved and passionate, so it’s been an amazing few months [since the acquisition]added Reynolds, who has worked at Tiffany for 34 years.
While many stones from the collection are some of the rarest and finest in the world, they have been set in a distinctly casual way.
For Reynolds, it’s part of Tiffany’s success and DNA as an American jeweler. “I think fine jewelry isn’t just something you wear in a formal setting – I wear jewelry with jeans, when I go out at night. It’s about loving jewelry and making part of who you are and how you wear them. It’s a form of self-expression – something you wear every day, not just in the vault,” she told about his vision for the collection.
And in a first for Tiffany, the jeweler has set up a room of exceptional loose gemstones that can be purchased for a bespoke jewelry design experience. Flawless diamond pairs, special demantoid garnets, and the aforementioned red diamonds – of which Reynolds estimates there are around 20 in the world – can be purchased and crafted into one-of-a-kind pieces that suit collectors’ unique tastes.
This is the second collection of the Colors of Nature concept, and the first available in New York. In April, Tiffany exhibited a Blue Book installation in Shanghai, and the remaining unsold pieces from that outing were also carried over to this New York visit. Then, Tiffany will take the remaining pieces on the road to Los Angeles to unveil them before the holidays.