With The Great Gatsby so present in design at the moment, it is hardly surprising that a strong Jazz Age streak runs through Tiffany's Blue Book for 2013. Almost 200 pieces of what this American house calls 'statement jewellery' were recently unveiled in New York, and I was fortunate enough to be able to see them first hand and talk to Melvyn Kirtley, Head Gemologist for the house.
Tiffany & Co's Blue Book dates back to 1845, when Charles Tiffany created the first retail catalogue by presenting drawings of his offerings bound in a blue tome. "In the 1920s, the world looked to New York, and we were the pre-eminent jeweller and part of the whole era," explains Kirtley of Tiffany's presence during this moment in history, alive with change and excitement between the two world wars and just before the Great Crash of 1929.
As always, Tiffany can afford the luxury of turning to its extensive archives for inspiration in finding new ways to interpret American glamour. White diamonds set in platinum and pearls contrast with flashes of dramatic onyx, and colour makes itself known in occasional dramatic bursts.
The 20 jewels made for The Great Gatsby collection are the most clear reference to the 1920s. All eyes were drawn to the "Savoy Headpiece", which evokes the design of a Native American headdress crafted in platinum, with diamonds and freshwater cultured pearls. The leaf-shaped motif detaches and can be worn as a brooch.
Other highlights include the corsage necklace of baguette and round-cut diamonds in platinum, which is so light it appears to float on the skin. This is a revamped version of a necklace made by Tiffany & Co for the 1929 World Fair and the very necklace Anne Hathaway wore back to front to the Academy Awards this year, sparking a trend for jewels draping down the back.
A brilliant fancy vivid green 1.21ct diamond peeps out from 27 rose-cut diamond flower 'petals' in an ice-white ring. The clever setting technique of platinum thread makes it resemble a shimmering flower.
Fiery orange and yellow sapphires add an amber warmth to rings, and spessartites glow in drop earrings surrounded by scrolls of diamond-set platinum. An impressive 74.63ct morganite, named, incidentally, for Tiffany client J.P. Morgan, blushes amongst a delicate trellis of diamond leaves and berries in a cuff.
A 42.59ct yellow diamonds hangs majestically from a river of white diamonds as the rich velvet violet of tanzanite beads wash across the wrist. Another coloured gemstone closely associated with Tiffany is the tsavorite. Its sharp zest cools a jazzy melee of colour in a cuff that is a confetti of orange spessartites, yellow sapphires and diamonds.
And no Blue Book is complete without a piece signed by Jean Schlumberger, who joined Tiffany & Co in 1956. His shell necklace of rolling motion is dotted with glossy red rubellite cabochons.
View the Blue Book collection at the Oscars