For more examples of Tiffany orchid jewels, please refer John Loring, Tiffany Jewels, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1999, pages 108-113
This stunning orchid brooch was created by Tiffany & Co., as part of the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Designed by Paulding Farnham, chief designer and head of their Jewelry Division, the orchids generated such interest that the company received a gold medal for their display. Farnham was awarded the silver medal, clearly establishing the American firm's reputation on the international market.
The fascination with orchids reached its zenith during the last quarter of the 19th century and they were regarded as a symbol of wealth and prestige. Martin Johnson Heade, a Hudson River School painter, traveled to Brazil to capture these exotic flowers on canvas and inspired collectors and admirers alike. Tiffany and Co. had actual specimens brought to the studio from such locales as Mexico, India, Guatemala and the Philippines to serve as models for their line and preserved them in copper.
Demand for the orchids prompted Tiffany & Co. to continue producing them and in 1890 they chose to add another fifteen varieties to the already existing twenty-four. Found in South East Asia, the orchid pictured is an Phalaenopsis schillerianum. Created with the typical "matte-finished" enamel, and punctuated at the center by a small old mine-cut diamond it looks amazingly life-like.
The French mark 'ET' indicates that this orchid was manufactured between the dates 1864-1893 but that it was not of French origin. It is most likely that it was imported into France for the Exposition in 1889 and stamped upon importation.