Tiffany & Co. showcases its jewels in Japan

Isabelle Hossenlopp

Tiffany & Co. has announced the Tiffany Wonder exhibition in Tokyo, celebrating 187 years of craftsmanship, creativity and the House’s unprecedented diamond heritage.

Through 10 rooms, Tiffany Wonder engages visitors in an immersive exhibition that brings together 300 exceptional objects that bear witness to nearly 200 years of Tiffany & Co. heritage. The exhibition ends with the cornerstone of the House, the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond, set in a new transformable creation inspired by Jean Schlumberger’s emblematic Bird on a Rock brooch.

Japan, a major market

The love affair between the American jeweler and Japan began in the 1870s, when the archipelago opened up to the world and attracted its fascination through its refined art. Edward C. Moore, who designed jewelry for the American House, was one of the first to pay tribute to the delicate beauty of Japanese works and the skill of their artists. Louis Comfort Tiffany followed in his footsteps, as did Elsa Perreti, who was inspired by the philosophy of wabi-sabi, the beauty that comes from imperfection.

After succumbing to the poetry of Japanese art, Tiffany & Co. set up shop on the archipelago, where it now has 59 stores (Japan is its second-largest market), including 3 new ones opened this year in Tokyo, Ginza and Omotesando. For the first time, it is exhibiting its centuries-old heritage in Japan.

A tribute to designers

For more than 187 years, Tiffany & Co. has dazzled the world with its spectacular demonstrations of creativity and expertise, its research into the forms of fine jewelry, its highly figurative and extremely realistic nature, and its unrivalled attention to detail. Tiffany & Co. brings its creations to life with remarkable precision. 

DRAGONFLY BROOCH, 1904, designed by Julia Munson under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany – Dragonfly brooch, created by Julia Munson under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1904.
© Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co. was one of the first to showcase its jewelry designers, some of whom went on to become famous (Edward C. Moore, George Paulding Farnham, Louis Comfort Tiffany – son of the founder – Elsa Peretti, Jean Schlumberger, Angela Cummings, Paloma Picasso, and so on.).

Visitors can admire an orchid by George Paulding Farnham that was presented at the 1889 Universal Exhibition, Louis Comfort Tiffany’s Medusa (1902-1904) and a pendant designed by Julia Munson (under the direction of Louis Comfort Tiffany) in 1904, among other breathtaking pieces. In the Garden of Imagination room, the Plumes necklace, the Thorns, Strawberry and Fleur de Mer clips and the ultra-famous Bird on the Rock brooch by Jean Schlumberger inspire wonder with their vivid colors and timeless poetry.

Diamonds in history

Maintaining the dream and imagination that make Tiffany & Co. creations true objects of desire, one room is reserved for the legendary film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on the novella by Truman Capote. This glamorous movie was a global hit, and made a legend of 5th Avenue store The Landmark in the process. Other films followed, including Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo Di Caprio (2013), for which the American jeweler designed a collection featuring a diamond headband held in place by a ribbon, worn by Elizabeth Debicki.

The most moving part of the exhibition is without doubt The Diamond Kings, devoted to the fantastic and rare gift from the earth that is the diamond. Tiffany & Co.’s passion for this precious stone has spread far and wide. The House acquired several of the French crown jewels that were auctioned off in 1887, with some pieces subsequently reused in various creations. Whatever the period, diamonds have always been emblematic of the jeweler’s creativity. Whether the organic shapes of Art Nouveau, the elegant diamond bows of the Belle Époque, the sophisticated geometry of Art Deco or more contemporary expressionism, it is always the light of the diamond that sculpts the creations and expresses their strong personality. 

Trellis and Leaves necklace, Jean Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. Gold, platinum and diamonds, 1956 © Tiffany & Co.

The signature Tiffany Diamond

The exhibition closes with a new presentation of one of the House’s most precious treasures of the last nearly 150 years, the legendary Tiffany Diamond. Transformed into a brooch-pendant in 2022, it is surrounded by a delicate ballet of diamond birds set with 75 carats of brilliants and 10 pink sapphires. The jewel needed more than 2,000 hours of work.

The Tiffany Diamond mounted on a pendant brooch in 2022. Gold, platinum, diamonds and pink sapphires © Tiffany & Co.

Discovered in the Kimberley diamond mine in South Africa in 1877, the Tiffany Diamond – a magnificent fancy yellow weighing more than 287.42 carats – was acquired by Tiffany & Co. and then cut down to 128.54 carats to enhance its color. This decision to reduce the weight of the stone in such a significant and decisive way marks another of Tiffany & Co.’s strong signatures: always favoring beauty and brilliance over the weight of the stone. For Tiffany & Co., expertise in cutting is the heritage of exceptional craftsmanship. That this should be the last impression left on visitors was undoubtedly important.

Tiffany Wonder – TOKYO NODE gallery from April 12 to  June 23, 2024 – Tokyo