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For the Love of Tiffany: Silver and Jewelry by Tiffany & Co.

April 20th, 2011 | posted by Bill Rau

 When Charles Lewis Tiffany opened his stationary and fancy goods shop in 1837, he could not have imagined the indelible mark the name “Tiffany” would leave on the history of American decorative arts. Its mere mention conjures images of the timeless elegance and refinement seen in every work of silver and fine jewelry the firm ever created.

A magnificent 10-piece Chrysanthemum tea service. Introduced in 1878, Tiffany & Co.'s Chrysanthemum pattern is one of the most magnificent and celebrated sterling silver designs of the 19th century.

Tiffany and his partners John Young and J.L. Ellis recognized early on the importance of becoming prominent force in silversmithing. The great increase in demand during this era for both presentation and household silver convinced the trio to open their own silversmithing department, employing the greatest American silversmiths of the day. Headed by the famed John C. Moore, and soon, his son Edward C. Moore and grandson John C. Moore II, Tiffany became the leader of American silver craftsmanship. Their innovative designs spoke to the prevalent Victorian taste for extravagant dining and living, so much so that in 1878, the company became the only American silver firm to ever win a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition.

While silver was earning Tiffany world-acclaim, so was the firm’s penchant for exquisite jewelry. The company had sold faux diamonds procured by Young on a European buying trip. The pieces sold so well that an executive decision was made to only deal in the real thing. As early as 1848 New York City newspapers were referring to Charles Lewis Tiffany as “the King of diamonds.” Young went on a buying expedition to Paris later that year that happened to coincide with the rise of the French Revolution. The French nobility saw the need to liquidate many of their holdings, which included fabulous collections of gems and jewels of all sorts, including the French Crown Jewels. Needless to say, Young jumped at the opportunity to acquire the legendary collection, forever cementing the firm’s reputation as a purveyor and authority of the finest jewels.

Tiffany & Co.’s 165-year legacy is one of elegance and sophistication. Every single piece created in the firm’s renowned workshops is a tribute to the history, superiority and skill of the American craftsman.

To view M.S. Rau Antiques’ collection of Tiffany & Co. silver, click here.

To view M.S. Rau Antiques’ collection of Tiffany & Co. jewelry, click here.

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