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The History of Tiffany's: Background information when reading Tiffany Blues

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Tiffany Blues

A Novel

by M.J. Rose

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose X
Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2018, 336 pages
    Jun 2019, 336 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
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About this Book

The History of Tiffany's

This article relates to Tiffany Blues

Print Review

Much of the action in M. J. Rose's novel Tiffany Blues takes place at Louis Comfort Tiffany's fabulous estate near Oyster Bay, New York. It's an 84-room mansion, standing on over 60 acres of lush landscaping, all conceived and designed by Louis himself. Since the late 1800s he had been the chief creative force behind the famous jewelers' fabulous collections of jewels, china, silver and, most particularly, glass. He was a gifted painter, architect and landscape artist as well.

Charles Lewis Tiffany at His StoreCharles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young founded a store in 1837. Four years later they were joined by J. L. Ellis and became Tiffany, Young and Ellis. They sold stationery and fancy goods to the fashionable ladies who frequented their location at 259 Broadway in New York City. Before long, Charles noticed that the burgeoning country was losing its taste for European styles. The elite were hungry for distinctively American designs.

By 1853, the company had changed its name to Tiffany & Company, dropped stationery and specialized in selling jewelry and silver. But not just any jewelry and silver. According to a 2016 article in Forbes Magazine, "This is a prime example of a company's ability to effectively read the market; change based on consumer demands, and re-brand themselves to match the demand in the market. Tiffany recognized that while their stationery business was lucrative, it was not nearly as successful as it could be."

The company was clearly unafraid to establish their unique brand, including pricing that was aimed strictly at those consumers who could afford the very best. This was a severe departure from the custom at a time when merchants were open to bargaining with customers. Charles took a chance, stated a firm price and adopted a cash only policy.

U. S. Navy's Tiffany Cross Medal of HonorAt about the same time, they also cast a wide marketing net by doing work for the United States government – creating surgical instruments for the Union Army; designing ceremonial swords for Civil War generals and the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. They were also responsible for the 1885 redesign of the Great Seal of the United States, which appears on the one-dollar bill.

Tiffany's Blue BoxesIn 1867, they went abroad to compete and win the award for Excellence in Silverware at the Exposition Universelle in Paris, and their silver designs began to win awards at expositions worldwide. They designed silver, china and jewelry for kings, queens and heads of state all over Europe, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. President Chester Arthur hired Louis to redecorate the White House in 1882. Jacqueline Kennedy was also a customer. Over time they have kept pace with their market by partnering with fresh new visionary designers such as Elsa Peretti and Paloma Picasso. Recently they have begun selling jewelry designed by rapper A$AP Ferg. Gifts remain distinctive in their copyrighted blue box.

2018 Spring Campaign for Tiffany's with actress Elle Fanning and rapper A$AP Ferg:

Filed under Music and the Arts

Article by Donna Chavez

This "beyond the book article" relates to Tiffany Blues. It originally ran in August 2018 and has been updated for the June 2019 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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