Hubert Burda Media

What Dreams are Made Of

Tiffany & Co. gets swept up in the days of the Great Gatz, where unfettered materialism defined the American dream.

What Dreams are Made Of

Hands up, those who watched Director Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's literary classic The Great Gatsby, and secretly wished to be transported to that golden era. Centred in New York in the 1920s, this fictional tale brought to life the excessive (and corrosive) lifestyle of the rich — the old moneyed and the nouveau riche — with their Rolls-Royces, sprawling mansions, hedonistic soirees and, most blindingly, their flashy jewels.
Magnificently draped on lead characters Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker, the stunning jewellery are an integral part of the film's visual dialogue. From the large cushion-cut solitaire that sparkled hello to us when we were first introduced to Buchanan, to the Savoy tiara adorned with diamonds and pearls that accompanied her to her first party in Jay Gatsby's home, these are part of the exclusive set of 30 pieces created by Tiffany & Co. in collaboration with Academy Award-winning costume and set designer Catherine Martin.
Why Tiffany & Co.? For starters, Fitzgerald himself was a customer. Secondly, its first Design Director Louis Comfort Tiffany (son of founder Charles Lewis Tiffany) himself hobnobbed and mingled with real-life Buchanan-types in their New York City penthouses and Long Island estates. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, if you were anyone in New York during the Roaring Twenties, you shopped at Tiffany.
“This is the first time I have been involved in the process of designing jewellery and while I'm used to working with detail...there's a different scale to the level of detail, craftsmanship and precision needed in designing jewellery,” says Martin, during a press conference that marked the official unveiling of the specially designed window displays at the flagship boutique on Fifth Avenue.
For inspiration, Martin took to Tiffany & Co.'s extensive 176-year-old archives, with some pieces like the Savoy headpiece, daisy locket, Gatsby's monogrammed cufflinks and his signet ring that features an inscribed daisy, coming directly from there. “The item that really inspired me was the drawing that led to Buchanan's party headpiece. I felt that it defined her character and describes the 1920s so quintessentially that I could not ignore it,” explains Martin.
Whether it was expressed on a locket or carved onto the piece of onyx on Gatsby's ring, the daisy is a recurring motif in this collection. The flower is symbolic for its reference to Buchanan but is also adopted extensively throughout because of its repeated appearance in Tiffany's designs over the years. In The Great Gatsby collection, it is seen most conspicuously in the pair of hand jewellery she wore to Gatsby's party, complete with a matching diamond ring shaped after a daisy with a 5.25-ct diamond centre.
Rope in a few diamond-and-onyx cuffs, ornamental brooches, tassel necklaces and cocktail rings and that sums up the 30-strong collection fit for any princess's dowry. But ask Martin what her favourite piece is and it is neither the prettiest nor the most extravagant one. “Gatsby's signet ring with the daisy symbol is our nod to his obsessive love for Buchanan. The flower, traditionally a symbol of purity, is meant to signal to the audience the pure and overwhelming love he has,” she says.
The Great Gatsby collection is part of the Blue Book 2013 collection, which is made up of this year's compilation of the most magnificent and breathtaking Tiffany & Co. creations. Themed after the Jazz Age, it contains jewellery pieces inspired by the pulsating energy of an era that transformed approaches to fashion and culture. The 1920s was also a period that catapulted American glamour to dizzying heights. We revealed some pieces earlier in our April issue but many more were added for the official launch in New York in the same month.
One of the most stunning pieces is a rare 1.21-ct vivid-green diamond ring with 27 rose-cut white diamonds amounting to 9.20cts. While a diamond of that colour indeed almost never comes on the market, this ring's full beauty and splendour can only be appreciated when it is worn, because of the attention that had been lavished on its construction. “This was one innovative technique we employed. Rather than setting rose-cut diamonds in a bezel, which is the most common setting, we wanted this to look like it was a natural flower,” shares Jon King, executive vice president of Tiffany & Co. and the man responsible for the management of product and store design.
The 27 rose-cut diamonds that surrounded the focal stone were mounted en tremblant so that each stone sparkles ever so delicately at every twitch of the hand. This is achieved though a method that sees each diamond drilled with a single hole, then held together by a platinum wire that is eventually secured to the base of the ring.
As the undisputed authority on diamonds, the Tiffany Blue Book treasure trove is incomplete without other remarkable diamond specimens. The most expensive piece in the entire collection is a pair of US$6 million earrings adorned with matching heart-shaped fancy vivid-blue diamonds amounting to 3.84cts in total. “I have never seen stones like these. Finding two diamonds perfectly matched not only in size and shape but also in colour makes this incredibly rare,” says King.
Pink diamonds, unique to Australia, add to this palette of rare-coloured diamonds. But perhaps the one colour that Tiffany displays the most affection for in the world of fancy-coloured diamonds are the vivid-yellows. The legendary story of the Tiffany Diamond that was cut from its original 287cts to eventual 127cts remains a story passed from one generation of staff to another, reminding them (and us) of the importance and value of quality.
About five years ago, a partnership was signed between the jeweller and the Allendale mine in Australia that grants them exclusive access to the mine's fancy-coloured diamonds — the vivid-yellows in particular. “There are a few yellow diamond mines throughout the world but this is the only one that contains fancy yellows of the vivid nature that we require…we only want the canary-coloured ones,” explains King. This year, these wonderful diamonds the shade of solid sunshine find themselves in platinum rings, cuffs and brooches. A remarkable 24.82-ct specimen presented as a rectangular modified brilliant is encased in a frame of platinum and white diamonds, and strung on a necklace of brilliant-cuts amounting to some 42.59cts. Priced at $1.5 million, that drew a lot of attention, but not as much as another piece that came up to only a quarter of its value.
Described as the pinnacle of royal pageantry, a platinum tiara, strung with nine fancy intense yellow diamonds totalling 8.43cts, garnered the most gasps among those present at the private preview of the Blue Book 2013. Worn atop the head, it gives every woman who adorns it a taste of life as a princess. But more remarkable is its versatility: The row of yellow diamonds interspersed with four-petalled diamond flowers can be detached and worn as a bracelet, making this a good example of today's hunt for versatile jewellery pieces that can be worn on multiple occasions.
The Great Gastby collection and some of the Blue Book 2013 masterpieces were displayed (some in secured glass vitrines and others on Hollywood's favourite starlets the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker) in their full glory at the Blue Book Ball that took place at Rockefeller Center. Each guest had to walk into a 34-ft high Tiffany blue box to enter a supper-club-themed evening of jazz, cigarette girls and glittering dreams. As Hudson so aptly put: “The best thing about Tiffany is the promise behind the famed Tiffany blue box.”