18 October 1999
AN ANTIQUE AQUAMARINE INTAGLIO AND DIAMOND BAR BROOCH, TIFFANY & CO.
Tiffany & Co.
The aquamarine intaglio depicting a bountiful harvest scene, within an old-mine cut diamond frame, inscribed on reverse "October 19th, 1883", mounted in gold (with a pendant hoop), circa 1885
Signed Tiffany & Co.
Charles L. Tiffany was an exacting president of Tiffany & Co. He employed only the most talented designers to create superb silverware and jewelry that rivaled pieces his counterparts were making in Europe. Gemstones had to be of the finest quality whether a precious or semi-precious stone. Diamonds were of the finest water (the term used in the nineteenth century) and colored gemstones had to be of gem quality. The aquamarine in this brooch is superb, the perfect color of blue with a tint of green, like water. However, instead of faceting it, the artist has carved a scene of figures celebrating the bountiful harvest into the surface, a technique known as intaglio. During the first half of the 1880s, Tiffany & Co. offered cameos sculpted from agate, but very rarely does one see an intaglio in aquamarine. This stone may have been found by the firm's gem expert, George Frederick Kunz, who joined Tiffany's in 1879. He scoured the world in search of unusual gem material, shipping it back to New York for the designers to create imaginative jewelry. His unerring eye could not miss the purity and the even color distribution of this aquamarine which make it an ideal stone for an intaglio.
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For an illustration of a similar brooch see:
Fales, Martha Gandy, "Jewelry in America: 1600-1900", Antique Collectors' Club Ltd., Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1995, p. 414
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