Tiffany's Diamonds

I’ve entered Saatchi Gallery with a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm to visit the exhibition about Tiffany’s, a legendary jewellery brand immortalised by Truman Capote, Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn. The film Breakfast at Tiffany’s will always be a reference, and it takes centre stage on this mesmerising exhibition, that definitely lived up to my expectations.

You can even find the little black dress Audrey Hepburn was wearing while gazing at Tiffany’s shop window in New York, a masterpiece of Hubert de Givenchy.

But the liaison with film history doesn’t stop here. Tiffany is the first brand Marilyn Monroe mentions while singing ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

There is definitely a lot of sparkle throughout the exhibition, diamonds do shine very brightly, especially under dim light. It is definitely a celebration of the brand’s incredible heritage.

The first store opened in 1837 in New York, and in 1878, Charles Lewis Tiffany purchased a 287.42-carat yellow diamond, named the Tiffany Diamond. He also introduced the engagement ring in 1886.

There are quite a few of them on display, and I couldn’t resist to try one on, just to have the experience, (yes, there’s a room where you can do that). What makes an engagement ring so special is the person offering it to you, the mutual love and aspiration of a life together.

You can even write a love message on screen, before seeing it moving along a wall until it disappears. It’s a fine depiction of today’s bonds, that tend to be far more fleeting.

Even though it’s harder to find, I do believe true love is timeless like a diamond. I’ll always have tremendous respect for my parents for showing me what love really is, far beyond what one can see in Hollywood movies.

The exhibition features some of the most talented designers who have worked with the brand. Elsa Peretti joined Tiffany’s in 1974, and revolutionised jewellery design with her sculptural aesthetic and modern sensibility.

Paloma Picasso also designed an iconic first collection for Tiffany’s in 1980, inspired by the graffiti on New York City buildings during the previous decade.

Some of these eye-catching pieces are on display and it feels really special to be able to look at them so closely. The vast array of curated jewellery includes a 1876 green emerald necklace with French Crown Jewels. The beauty and craftsmanship are simply breathtaking!

The star of the exhibition is kept to the end, the yellow Tiffany Diamond in all its glory, adorning a necklace that Lady Gaga wore at the Oscars in 2019. You can also try it on, even if only virtually, but you do need to scan the QR code while on the Tiffany's app.

Lady Gaga with Tiffany Diamond

Lady Gaga wearing the Tiffany Diamond at the Oscars in 2019

Beyonce was also photographed wearing it for a controversial advertising campaign in 2021, that brought to light the recurring issue of blood diamonds, gems that are mined in conflict zones and sold to fund military action.

Tiffany launched its Diamond Source Initiative a couple of years earlier to provide provenance information for every newly sourced diamond. This clearly shows how brands can take responsibility for their supply chain.

As consumers, we should ask and know about the provenance of everything we buy, if we want to contribute towards sustainability ourselves. We can also enquire about social responsibility, what a brand is doing to support others and minimise its impact on the environment.

Social responsibility is as relevant as an USP. Since first being established in 2000, The Tiffany & Co. Foundation has awarded over $98 million in grants to nonprofit organisations working around the world, focusing on responsible mining and coral conservation.

Today, Tiffany is owned by French luxury giant LVMH, who bought the firm for $ in January 2021. You can find further information about this deal on Reuters. LVMH aims to revitalise the brand and attract younger generations.

In a way diamonds are by nature circular, as they always outlive their owners. One thing is for sure, they’re meant to shine and this exhibition is a great opportunity to admire some of the most beautiful Tiffany’s jewellery of the past 185 years.

Vision & Virtuosity

Saatchi Gallery, London

10 June to 19 August