Louis Comfort Tiffany
Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of the founder of the Tiffany & Co jewelry empire, Charles Lewis Tiffany, took over the family business in 1902 after the death of his father. By that time, he was already famous. Tiffany’s international recognition was brought by his exquisite glass products: stained-glass windows, lamps, bijouterie. His own design style was very different from the products previously produced by Tiffany & Co.
Growing up in luxury and surrounded by beautiful things, having made many travels, he absorbed and reflected in his creations the bright beauty and luxury of the art of the East. The demand for Tiffany & Co jewelry products has been tested by time. Therefore, to implement his innovative ideas, Louis Comfort created a new division within the company – the department of artistic jewelry. Already in 1904, at the World’s Fair in St. Louis (USA), the company received the Grand Prix for jewelry from Louis Comfort Tiffany.
It is a hair ornament made of fine silver threads with tiny opals, demantoid garnets, garnets and enamel flowers.
St. Louis World’s Fair
This exhibition featured 27 pieces of jewelry, many of which were handcrafted or decorative arts. An enamelled Queen Anne lace brooch, a grape bunch necklace, a gold and opal Medusa head pendant, an Etruscan-style silver necklace and even a bronze glass bead fringe necklace, these innovative pieces have received international acclaim. The artistic jewelry department that Louis Comfort created to prepare for the exhibition was curated by Julia Munson, who then collaborated with Tiffany for 12 years.
Together they created jewelry with the same vibrant elements that were the hallmark of his glassware. A review of the St. Louis World Exhibition drew attention to Louis Tiffany’s jewelry and how he used “more unusual gems, always choosing them solely for the purpose of achieving the desired artistic result and leaving aside all questions about their market value.”
Tiny black opals are bunches of fruit, and finely finished enamel in shades of green on gold forms delicate leaves. This necklace was one of twenty-seven pieces that Tiffany made for the 1904 St. Louis Shopping Exhibition. (Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)
The authorship of Louis Comfort Tiffany owns several hundred art pieces.
The Peacock necklace is one of the most important works of the designer. It was designed for the debut of his line of art jewelry at the 1904 World Exhibition in St. Louis, but was presented to the public only in 1906 in Paris at the Salon of the Society of French Artists – Société des Artistes Français. On the face of the necklace there is a mosaic of opals and enamels in the shape of a peacock, surrounded by amethysts and sapphires. The back of the necklace is enamelled with a pattern of pink flamingos.
True to his artistic preferences, Luis Comfort in jewelry design primarily thought about how a gemstone, given its color and ability to diffuse and transform light, can convey the design and sense of beauty it was trying to achieve. For many years, Tiffany’s firm collaborated with America’s leading gemologist, George Frederick Kunz. Louis Comfort and Koontz shared a fascination with unusual and unconventional stones.
Tourmalines from Maine and sapphires from the Yogo Gulch mine in Montana had the color and luster that Louis Comfort was looking for. Dense lapis lazuli and turquoise, adularescent moonstones and opals combined with multi-colored enamel can be seen as a continuation of his pioneering work in glass and windows. The symbolism of the stones was also taken into account: black opals depicting peacock feathers were a sign of immortality in Far Eastern cultures.
jewelery featuring moonstones
This transforming necklace, one of the most complex that has come down to us, is adorned with irregular moonstones alternating with a sapphire pattern. The product could be worn as one large necklace with a pendant, or split and worn as a choker or bracelet, and the pendant as a separate brooch. (Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)