Tiffany jewelry

Last updated
Tiffany jewelry
FounderLouis Comfort Tiffany
United States

Tiffany jewelry was the jewelry created and supervised by Louis Comfort Tiffany at Tiffany & Co., during the Art Nouveau movement.



Louis Comfort Tiffany waited until after his father’s death (Charles Lewis Tiffany) in 1902 before beginning to create jewelry. On March 22, 1902, Tiffany received approval to become a member of Tiffany & Co.’s board of directors, afterwards becoming vice-president and art director. This gave Tiffany the ability to make executive choices; without being under the shadow of his father any longer, Tiffany was able to focus his creative energies on his jewelry. [1] :73

Tiffany began to experiment with jewelry designs in 1902 at Tiffany Furnaces, with the intent of showing his pieces as part of Tiffany & Co.’s display at the St. Louis Exposition. It was the perfect venue for him to show his range of talent in a variety of media. All the jewelry Tiffany made during this time was stamped with “Louis C. Tiffany,” along with “Artist.” [1] :75 There are no surviving day books nor ledgers to help provide information on how Tiffany went about his jewelry prior to 1907; however his exhibit at the St. Louis Exposition provides some knowledge of his ventures. [1] :76


For many of the pieces that Tiffany produced during this time, his focus gravitated towards flower like inspirations. The nature theme was also a current motif that occurred in many of his other works. He also produced some pieces based on Etruscan prototypes. [1] :76

Motifs such as wild carrots, dandelions, birds and blackberries were quite common. The scarab theme was also used quite frequently as a decorative motive in his jewelry and desktop items. [2] :122 It is noted that many of the pieces took on a very chunky appearance, reminiscent of the jewelry worn by the Celts. His work was very different from the airy, fluttery look of the Art Nouveau. [3] :245

Tiffany’s jewelry can be categorized into two main areas of influence, naturalism and historicism, but after further investigation it is apparent that he had many other influences, some being quite unidentifiable. [1] :101


Tiffany not only explored the various jewelry processes of the time, but also branched out into new metals, such as platinum, which at the time was considered very hard to manipulate. [1] :80

It seems to be the case that unusual colorations appealed to Tiffany, like the opal. [1] :89 He also preferred gemstones that were either opaque or translucent. Turquoise, jade, carnelian, lapis, moonstones, and opals were all chosen for their ability to filter light. Emphasis based on color was very prevalent in his works. [1] :110

He devoted his first year of jewelrymaking mainly to focus towards forms and techniques, and only really began to put a collection together once he was satisfied with the fruits of his labor. [1] :91

Once Tiffany & Co. began to manufacture his jewelry, there was a marked evolution in his pieces. His earlier pieces went from being made in a “hand-wrought”-looking manner, to a much more symmetrical and stylized fashion. [1] :97 There was a great variety of jewelry produced during the 26 years that Louis Tiffany's enameling and jewelry division was in operation at Tiffany & Co. It has been estimated that nearly 5,500 pieces were produced during that time, an impressive amount considering the detail and craftsmanship in each piece. [1] :136

He produced the same high-quality artisanship that was very much prized during the Arts and Crafts movement. [4] :732

Lasting impressions

One of the last significant pieces that Tiffany produced was a plique-à-jour gold chalice enameled with peacock feathers, which he had designed in 1925. The cup portion of it was shaped like a tulip, once again reinforcing his admiration for nature. The peacock motif, shown in many of his pieces, is thought to have been his last appeal to immortality. [1] :160

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Art Nouveau</span> 1890–1911 European style of art and architecture

Art Nouveau is an international style of art, architecture, and applied art, especially the decorative arts. The style is known by different names in different languages: Jugendstil in German, Stile Liberty in Italian, Modernisme in Catalan, and also known as the Modern Style in English. It was popular between 1890 and 1910 during the Belle Époque period, and was a reaction against the academic art, eclecticism and historicism of 19th century architecture and decoration. It was often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers. Other characteristics of Art Nouveau were a sense of dynamism and movement, often given by asymmetry or whiplash lines, and the use of modern materials, particularly iron, glass, ceramics and later concrete, to create unusual forms and larger open spaces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">René Lalique</span> French jeweller and glass designer

René Jules Lalique was a French jeweller, medallist, and glass designer known for his creations of glass art, perfume bottles, vases, jewellery, chandeliers, clocks, and automobile hood ornaments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louis Comfort Tiffany</span> American stained glass and jewelry designer (1848–1933)

Louis Comfort Tiffany was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau and Aesthetic movements. He was affiliated with a prestigious collaborative of designers known as the Associated Artists, which included Lockwood de Forest, Candace Wheeler, and Samuel Colman. Tiffany designed stained glass windows and lamps, glass mosaics, blown glass, ceramics, jewellery, enamels, and metalwork. He was the first design director at his family company, Tiffany & Co., founded by his father Charles Lewis Tiffany.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alphonse Mucha</span> Czech painter, illustrator and graphic artist (1860–1939)

Alfons Maria Mucha, known internationally as Alphonse Mucha, was a Czech painter, illustrator, and graphic artist, living in Paris during the Art Nouveau period, widely known for his distinctly stylized and decorative theatrical posters, particularly those of Sarah Bernhardt. He produced illustrations, advertisements, decorative panels, as well as designs, which became among the best-known images of the period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Émile Gallé</span>

Émile Gallé was a French artist and designer who worked in glass, and is considered to be one of the major innovators in the French Art Nouveau movement. He was noted for his designs of Art Nouveau glass art and Art Nouveau furniture, and was a founder of the École de Nancy or Nancy School, a movement of design in the city of Nancy, France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brooch</span> Large ornament with a pin fastening

A brooch is a decorative jewelry item designed to be attached to garments, often to fasten them together. It is usually made of metal, often silver or gold or some other material. Brooches are frequently decorated with enamel or with gemstones and may be solely for ornament or serve a practical function as a clothes fastener. The earliest known brooches are from the Bronze Age. As fashions in brooches changed rather quickly, they are important chronological indicators. In archaeology, ancient European brooches are usually referred to by the Latin term fibula.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Siegfried Bing</span> German-French art dealer

Samuel Siegfried Bing, who usually gave his name as S. Bing, was a German-French art dealer who lived in Paris as an adult, and who helped introduce Japanese art and artworks to the West and was a factor in the development of the Art Nouveau style during the late nineteenth century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tiffany & Co.</span> Global luxury retail company

Tiffany & Co. is an American luxury jewelry and specialty design house headquartered on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Tiffany is known for its luxury goods, particularly its diamond and sterling silver jewelry. These goods are sold at Tiffany stores, online, and corporate merchandising. Its name and branding are licensed to Coty for fragrances and to Luxottica for eyewear.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art</span>

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, a museum noted for its art nouveau collection, houses the most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany found anywhere, a major collection of American art pottery, and fine collections of late-19th- and early-20th-century American paintings, graphics and the decorative arts. It is located in Winter Park, Florida, USA.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tiffany lamp</span> Type of lamp with a glass shade

A Tiffany lamp is a type of lamp with a camed glass shade designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany or colleagues, and made in his design studio. The glass in the lampshades is put together with the copper-foil technique instead of leaded, the classic technique for stained-glass windows. Tiffany lamps are considered part of the Art Nouveau movement. Considerable numbers of designs were produced from 1893 onwards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Laurelton Hall</span> Destroyed mansion in New York, United States

Laurelton Hall was the home of noted artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, located in Laurel Hollow a village in the town of Oyster Bay in Long Island, New York. The 84-room mansion on 600 acres of land, designed in the Art Nouveau style, combined Islamic motifs with connection to nature, was completed in 1905, and housed many of Tiffany's most notable works, as well as serving as a work of art in and of itself. It was also commonly referred to as the "Oyster Bay estate".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maison de l'Art Nouveau</span> Parisian art gallery opened by Siegfried Bing

The Maison de l'Art Nouveau, abbreviated often as L'Art Nouveau, and known also as Maison Bing for the owner, was a gallery opened on 26 December 1895, by Siegfried Bing at 22 rue de Provence, Paris.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paulding Farnham</span> American jewelry designer

George Paulding Farnham (1859–1927) was an American jewelry designer, sculptor and metallurgist who worked for Tiffany & Co. in the late 19th and early 20th century. Farnham married American sculptor Sally James Farnham in 1896. After leaving Tiffany & Co. in 1908, Farnham focused his interests on developing mining properties in British Columbia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Art Nouveau furniture</span> Furniture style, 1890s to 1914

Furniture created in the Art Nouveau style was prominent from the beginning of the 1890s to the beginning of the First World War in 1914. It characteristically used forms based on nature, such as vines, flowers and water lilies, and featured curving and undulating lines, sometimes known as the whiplash line, both in the form and the decoration. Other common characteristics were asymmetry and polychromy, achieved by inlaying different colored woods.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Philippe Wolfers</span>

Philippe Wolfers was a Belgian silversmith, jeweler, sculptor and designer. His mature work belongs to the Art Nouveau style, while in his later years his work aligned with Art Deco. As a jewel designer, he was less prolific than his French contemporary René Lalique. Nevertheless his "exemplaire unique" series of jewelry is among the finest jewelry created in Art Nouveau. Wolfers is also known for his sculptures, decorative objects and tableware executed in precious materials such as silver, bronze, ivory and marble. He also designed vases and objects in glass and faience.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alice Carmen Gouvy</span> American designer (d. 1924)

Alice Carmen Gouvy was a designer at Tiffany Studios and worked closely with Clara Driscoll, the head of the Women's Glass Cutting Department.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Art Nouveau posters and graphic arts</span>

Art Nouveau posters and graphic arts flourished and became an important vehicle of the style, thanks to the new technologies of color lithography and color printing, which allowed the creation of and distribution of the style to a vast audience in Europe, the United States and beyond. Art was no longer confined to art galleries, but could be seen on walls and illustrated magazines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Art Nouveau in Paris</span> Local implementation of a style of architecture and design

The Art Nouveau movement of architecture and design flourished in Paris from about 1895 to 1914, reaching its high point at the 1900 Paris International Exposition. with the Art Nouveau metro stations designed by Hector Guimard. It was characterized by a rejection of historicism and traditional architectural forms, and a flamboyant use of floral and vegetal designs, sinuous curving lines such as the whiplash line, and asymmetry. It was most prominent in architecture, appearing in department stores, apartment buildings, and churches; and in the decorative arts, particularly glassware, furniture, and jewelry. Besides Guimard, major artists included René Lalique in glassware, Louis Majorelle in furniture, and Alphonse Mucha in graphic arts, It spread quickly to other countries, but lost favor after 1910 and came to an end with the First World War.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Whiplash (decorative art)</span> Curved linear motif

The whiplash or whiplash line is a motif of decorative art and design that was particularly popular in Art Nouveau. It is an asymmetrical, sinuous line, often in an ornamental S curve, usually inspired by natural forms such as plants and flowers, which suggests dynamism and movement. It took its name from a woven fabric panel called "Coup de Fouet" ("Whiplash") by the German artist Hermann Obrist (1895) which depicted the stems and roots of the cyclamen flower. The panel was later reproduced by the textile workshop of the Darmstadt Artists Colony.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Art Nouveau glass</span>

Art Nouveau glass is fine glass in the Art Nouveau style. Typically the forms are undulating, sinuous and colorful art, usually inspired by natural forms. Pieces are generally larger than drinking glasses, and decorative rather than practical, other than for use as vases and lighting fittings; there is little tableware. Prominently makers, from the 1890s onwards, are in France René Lalique, Emile Gallé and the Daum brothers, the American Louis Comfort Tiffany, Christopher Dresser in Scotland and England, and Friedrich Zitzman, Karl Koepping and Max Ritter von Spaun in Germany. Art Nouveau glass included decorative objects, vases, lamps, and stained glass windows. It was usually made by hand, and was usually colored with metal oxides while in a molten state in a furnace.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Janet Zapata (1993). The Jewelry and Enamels of Louis Comfort Tiffany. New York: Harry N Abrams. ISBN   978-0810935068.
  2. Alistair Duncan (1992). Louis Comfort Tiffany . Library of American Art. Harry N Abrams & National Museum of American Art. ISBN   978-0810938625.
  3. Hugh F McKean (1980). The "Lost" Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday. ISBN   978-0385095853.
  4. Fred S Kleiner; Christin J Mamiya (2005). Gardner’s Art Through The Ages: The Western Perspective (12th ed.). Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN   978-0495004783.