In 1837, Tiffany & Co., the most renowned of American jewelers, opened its doors in New York City as Tiffany & Young. Its specialties were fancy goods and stationary. While initially carrying only a small selection of jewelry, most of which was costume, owners Charles Lewis Tiffany and John P. Young soon expanded their business to fine jewelry imported from Europe. In 1848, Young turned up in Paris for a buying trip whilst France’s second revolution raged. Nobles, loyal to King Louis-Phillipe and desperate to flee Paris, sold their diamonds to him at heavily discounted rates and in large quantities.
Thereafter diamonds were an integral part of Tiffany’s stock. In 1850, Tiffany opened an office in Paris at 79 Rue de Richelieu. Its presence in Paris allowed the firm to keep abreast of the newest trends from Europe. In 1853, Charles Lewis Tiffany gained sole control of the firm and changed its name to the more familiar, Tiffany & Co.. In 1870, the firm opened its famous Union Square location in New York.
As the century wore on, Tiffany became a trendsetter in its own right. George Frederick Kunz secured a steady supply of unusual gemstones for the firm’s jewelry: Montana sapphires, Mexican turquoise and fire opals, tourmalines from New England and demantoid garnets from Russia. Edward Moore and Paulding Farnham, Tiffany’s designers, turned to historical sources for design inspiration as well as to so-called exotic cultures and, most simply, to nature. Their innovative work won acclaim at international expositions (Paris 1878, 1884, 1889, 1900; Chicago 1893). At the 1900 Paris Exposition, the firm won the Grand Prize for jewelry. It was the first time an American firm was bestowed with this honor. The prize-winning collection featured North American gemstones and motifs, including “an Aztec collar of gold in which Mexican fire opals…daringly juxtaposed with red tourmalines” and “an astonishing tiara composed of tiers of ever-expanding scrollwork…set with turquoise from New Mexico." 
Louis Comfort Tiffany, Charles’s heir, further enhanced the firm’s reputation for innovative design and helped to usher in the Art Nouveau era in decorative arts and jewelry. His pieces were often inspired by nature; dragonflies and Queen Anne’s Lace were among his favorite subjects. Softly colored enamels and mixtures of precious and semi-precious gemstones embellish many of his pieces. After his father died in 1902, Louis Comfort Tiffany assumed control of firm and became Tiffany's first Director of Design. He led the firm through the Art Deco era and into the Retro age. In 1933, Lewis Comfort Tiffany died.
It was not until 1955 that a new director of design was found. In 1955, newly minted company president Walter Hoving hired Van Day Trueux for the position. The New York Herald Tribune called Trueux, “splendidly opinionated, emphatically outspoken, and dead right". It was Trueux’s idea to invite Jean Schlumberger, a well-connected socialite and previously a fashion jewelry designer for Elsa Schiaparelli, to create individualized pieces for Tiffany. The choice was an unqualified success. Schlumberger brought famous friends and a strong sense of whimsy to the company. His signature pieces featured animal motifs embellished with bold enamel and large, bright gemstones. He also created Tiffany’s classic ribbed and studded “X” bangles. When Schlumberger departed, the firm continued to feature individual designers. In the last half of the twentieth century, designers like Donald Claflin (1965-1977), Angela Cummings (late 60’s-early 80’s), Elsa Peretti (1974-present), Paloma Picasso (1980-present), and now Frank Gerhy (2005-present) have kept Tiffany’s image, and inventory, fresh.