The Engaging Art of Romance

When the house of Tiffany & Co. was born so too was the engagement ring as we know it today. We take a look at how the fine jeweler revolutionized the beguiling art of courtship

The enduring legacy of Tiffany & Co. rests in its popularization of the ritual of engagement ring-giving, transforming it into the romantic and sacred ceremony held so dear among couples all over the world today.

The first engagement ring on record was set with a diamond and given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximilian of Hamburg in 1477. However, it was Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Lewis Tiffany who first introduced the extraordinary Tiffany® Setting to the jewelry world in 1886 that the trend of bestowing engagement rings to your lover really took off.

Before Tiffany's seminal ring was created, the diamonds of engagement rings were set in bezels. Mr. Tiffany’s ring, however, was scrupulously designed to show off the scintillating fire of exceptional diamonds. Tiffany's ground-breaking setting comprising six platinum prongs lifted the stone off the band, allowing maximium light to reflect off the stone.

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Sketch of the Tiffany® Setting, showing the six platinum prongs mirroring the symmetry of the diamond's cut, c. 1880s

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The Tiffany® Setting Engagement Ring, a classic based on a design that holds the diamond away from the band on six prongs, permitting more light through the diamond

“The simplicity of the style stood out at the turn-of-the-century,” says fine jewelry historian Marion Fasel. “Mr. Tiffany Americanized the concept of the engagement ring. He simplified it in the most direct, American way."

"While European women wore elaborate rings, Charles Lewis Tiffany understood that women really just wanted to see a beautiful stone that represented fidelity and an invincible relationship. He lifted the stone to the light in the purest and most romantic way."

The introduction of the revolutionary Tiffany® Setting, together with the purchase of the French Crown Jewels in 1887, solidified Tiffany’s reputation as the “King of Diamonds.” Of course, the jewelry house has since become synonymous with the finest gems and the sort of grand sweeping romance that has enthralled couples everywhere.

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Another image from the archives. This is a detailed sketch of various diamond rings with prices sent to one Mr. Wm. E. Wyatt of Maryland, who had requested a selection of rings that he might consider for engagement (c. 1896)

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Tiffany Legacy® diamond ring in platinum. Featuring a cushion-cut diamond with a setting of bead-set diamonds, it recalls the high glamour of the Edwardian era

 

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The romantic symbolism of an engagement is encapsulated within the famous Tiffany Blue Box®. Its presentation is a magical moment that will linger in memory for a lifetime

You need only hold any of the Tiffany & Co. masterpieces to believe in the magic these jewels offer. The timeless simplicity of the six-prong Tiffany® Setting marries tradition with contemporary attitude and the finest of quality: Tiffany & Co. diamonds are cut for beauty, not size, a sacrifice the jeweler makes to ensure the utmost brilliance of each and every diamond that is labeled a Tiffany & Co. object.

“Every Tiffany setting is unique, just like the bride who wears one,” says Jon King, Tiffany’s Executive Vice President. “We cut the stones for optimal brilliance and pay special attention to proportion and scale to create the absolute perfect ring. From the design, to the craftsmanship, to the little Blue Box, Tiffany symbolizes nothing but the best when it comes to love’s ultimate statement.”

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A lingering kiss in front of the Pulitzer Fountain, New York City

To this day, a Tiffany diamond ring remains one of the most sought-after and prominent symbols of love. From the famed Tiffany Diamond that appeared in publicity shots for Breakfast at Tiffany’s—its 128.54 blazing carats making it one of the largest and finest fancy yellow diamonds in the world—to the 10-carat yellow diamond necklace worn by Kate Winslet on the red carpet at the 2010 Oscars, Tiffany & Co. creations have been immortalized in film, art and literature.

“The Tiffany engagement ring has withstood the test of time,” Fasel says. “Brilliant simplicity to wear every day of your life. The Tiffany® Setting is iconic to this day,” she says. “If brides don’t have a ring like that, they are not engaged!”

Indeed, no diamond speaks of true love like a Tiffany diamond and no engagement ring says I love you in quite the same way. So if you want to pamper your partner and reaffirm your commitment to your lover, there is no finer moment to celebrate, and no more perfect proposal.

 

Tiffany Co The Engaging Art Of Romance

The Lucida® diamond features an exclusive Tiffany cut set in an open, diamond-encrusted band.  It has 50 facets and a high crown, maximizing the stone's extraordinary sparkle

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The Tiffany Novo®'s design is inspired by the famous cushion-cut Tiffany Diamond, but differs from other cushion cuts in that it is a faceted brilliant cut rather than the usual “modified” brilliant cut

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Love that endures all. Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, New York City

Tiffany & Co.

Image Credits: © Tiffany & Co.

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