Famous Diamonds: the Tiffany Diamond
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Famous Diamonds: the Tiffany Diamond

About the history of the Tiffany diamond and Tiffany & Co, which was made popular by the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's

Tiffany was already a household name at least in the USA before Paramount Pictures released the 1961 movie adaptation of Truman Capote’s novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Capote had envisioned Marilyn Monroe for the lead role but fortunately for Tiffany & Co Paramount went with Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn’s outstanding, radiant performance and a memorable song, Moon River written by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini elevated the New York jewelry store to global prominence. In the movie Hepburn plays the zealous, independent Holy Golightly. Golightly visits Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue store to escape her anxiety and rejuvenate her spirits.

The movie was shot on location at Tiffany’s store in New York and Audrey Hepburn wore the Tiffany diamond in a Schlumberger design brooch to publicize the movie. Audrey Hepburn was nominated at the 1962 Academy Awards for best actress in a leading role and she won the David di Donatello Award for best foreign actress. Henry Mancini won the Academy Award for best music. Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer won the best original song category. When Audrey Hepburn died in 1992 Tiffany stores worldwide placed pictures of the movie star in their display windows with the words; our huckleberry friend.

Tiffany & Co’s first important  diamond purchases were at the sale of the French crown jewels in 1887, fifty years after the company was first founded by Charles Louis Tiffany. Tiffany was the largest buyer at the sale and purchased the most valuable item; the Empress Eugenie great diamond necklace. After diamonds were discovered in South Africa in the late 18th century, Tiffany & Co made a number of diamond purchases including yellow diamonds. The largest of which was a 287.42 carat canary-yellow rough diamond. The diamond most likely came from the Campagnie Francais de Diamant du Cap mines at Kimberley. However it is not known for sure because accurate records were not kept for mines at that time in South Africa.

Tiffany's at corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty seventh street, was the first fully air-conditioned building in New York.

George F. Kunz was a gemologist who joined Tiffany & Co in 1877 and eventually became vice president. He is most notable for his world wide acquisition and use of semi-precious gemstones such as tourmaline, opals, peridot and garnets in jewelry. Ten years after the Tiffany was purchased Kunz recorded a detailed report of the Tiffany. He describes the diamond as a 128.5 carat brilliant cut, cushion shape, with eighty two facets on its pavilion and crown. This large number of facets was not only designed to add sparkle but to add fire.

The diamond was purchased for $18,000 and it was taken to Paris where it stayed for over a year whilst the lapidary’s performed their magic. However what makes the Tiffany diamond extra special is its canary yellow color. As compared to most other yellow diamonds that are light yellow.

The Tiffany diamond: This 'Bird on a Rock' design is by Jean schlumberger.

The Tiffany was first exhibited in 1893 at Worlds Exposition in Chicago alongside Tiffany jewelry valued at over $2,000,000. The Tiffany was set on a revolving mount and as you can imagine was the center of attention. Almost as many people came to see the Tiffany as they did the Koh-i-noor at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. The Tiffany has been exhibited at several other exhibitions including the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 and The New York World’s Fair of 1939.

Photo's from commons.wikimedia.com

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Comments (2)


wow... what a gem! I love A Hepburn and I never knew this information, thanks!