Want to learn about Paloma Picasso Jewelry Designs? Learn about the history, materials used, jewelry marks, and how to identify in this guide.
A Brief History of Paloma Picasso Jewelry
Jewelry designer Paloma Picasso is known for her bold, often geometric designs, inspired by both the familiar and the exotic. Handwritten words and symbols are punctuated with colorful gemstones and diamonds. As one of the most successful designers at Tiffany & Co., Paloma Picasso’s jewelry designs continue to be in demand.
Early Life and Career
Paloma Picasso (1949-) was born into a family of artists. Her father was the Spanish born, world famous artist Pablo Picasso, who died in 1973. Her mother Francoise Gilot was also an artists and writer.
Paloma started her career, in 1968, as a costume designer, in France. This suited her theatrical nature. Here, she designed her first pieces of jewelry, using rhinestones she picked up at the local flea market. Intrigued by what she could create, Paloma enrolled in jewelry design classes.
In 1969, she started designing accessories for fashion designer Yves St. Laurent. Then, in 1971, she created a line of gold jewelry for the Greek company House of Zolota. In 1980, she signed a deal with Tiffany & Co. crafting her Paloma’s Graffiti line.
Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co.
In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young, opened a store, in New York, selling stationary and fancy goods. The original name was Tiffany, Young and Ellis, but in 1853, Tiffany bought out his partner and became the sole owner. He renamed his business Tiffany & Co., with a focus on jewelry.
The jewelry store quickly became the place to shop for diamond jewelry. High quality diamonds purchased from European aristocrats were fashioned into exclusive pieces. Tiffany set the standards for diamond engagement rings, with the introduction of the 6-prong setting, in 1886. This allowed for diamonds cut into many faucets to absorb more light and sparkle.
Colored stones also featured prominently in design. The famous Tiffany Diamond originally purchased by Charles Lewis Tiffany is still on display today. This magnificent gem is a fancy yellow diamond weighing in at 28.55 carats. Other colorful stones Tiffany & Co., introduced into the American market include tanzanite and morganite, a type of pink beryl.
The popular jewelry company continued to expand locations across the globe. Constant innovation was key. In 1980, Tiffany & Co., hired jewelry designer Paloma Picasso. “My purpose in life is to make everything more beautiful,” she has said.
Materials Used in Paloma Picasso Jewelry
- Rose gold
- White gold
- Sterling Silver
- Rose quartz
- Tourmaline (green and pink)
Work in Precious Metals
Tiffany & Co., have always been specialist in precious metals. In 1851, the company developed the .925 stamp as a symbol of true sterling silver. By 1886, their works in carat gold were in demand. By the 1930s, Tiffany had eliminated silver jewelry from its showcase.
In 1974, Elsa Peretti designed the Bone Cuff in sterling silver. Women everywhere wanted to wear the stylish design on their wrists. Silver was once again in demand.
Paloma Picasso continued the tradition of designing in sterling silver, along with yellow gold, rose gold and white gold. Silver jewelry can be worn everyday, with more casual fashions, and is available at an affordable price point. Customers responded with their pocketbooks!
Paloma Picasso Collectable Jewelry Designs
New York street art was the inspiration for Paloma Picasso’s line of jewelry incorporating stylized words, in her own handwriting. “In the 70s, people were starting to tag subways and walls, which had everyone outraged. I wanted to look at graffiti differently, and to make something positive out of it,” the designer said about Paloma’s Graffiti collection.
Like namesake jewelry, popular during the 1970s and 1980s, these words hang from chains, are pinned on brooches, and wrap around wrists and fingers, on bracelets and rings. Some of the words in the collection contain diamonds
The X symbol representing a kiss is dominant throughout Paloma’s Graffiti. Sometimes an O is added as a hug. These are some of the jewelry designers most iconic pieces.
Earrings are sold in singles to mix and match. The Love & Kisses Single Earring is comprised of a handwritten X and O. The Arrow Single Earring features an arrow with two kisses at the base. The Love Single Earring also pairs well. Earring sold in pairs include single X studs in small or mini or X Climber Earrings, also studs, with layered Xs to climb the ear.
The Olive Leaf Collection
In 2013, Paloma Picasso designed her Olive Leaf collection, inspired from the trees that grew around her home in Marrakesh. The olive branch has always been a sign of peace and abundance. The designer has added the symbols throughout some of the most intricate jewelry she has ever created.
Rings are available in thin our thick versions or swirling leaves, with or without diamond. Stud earrings include diamonds or pearls. Classic hoop earrings are festooned with olive leaves. Other designs are enclosed in hearts. Some are made to dangle. Pendant on chains match. Traditional set of pearls have olive leaves incorporated. Most stunning is the Olive Leaf Cuff, also available in a narrower design.
The Melody Collection
To celebrate her 35 years as a jewelry designer for Tiffany & Co., Paloma unveiled her Melody collection, in 2015. The designs have a special meaning to the artist, as they invoke spirituality, creativity, love, and dreams. The collection is based on interlocking circular bands that shift and move with the body. Some bands contain small diamonds for sparkle.
The collection features hoop earrings, studs with drop down circular spheres, various sizes of pendants and a variety of bangles. Rings provide endless interest in different metals and thicknesses.
Paloma Studio Designs
Designs from The Paloma Studio collection, first crafted in 2018, feature contemporary forms, using geometric shapes and bold colored gemstones. Purple amethyst, blue tanzanite, pink rubellite, green tourmaline and occasionally diamonds are cut into baguettes and hexagons.
Hexagon rings are made to be stackable. Pendants come in various sizes and can be worn on layered chains.
Vintage 80s and 90s Style
While the above designs are available directly from Tiffany & Co.,(or vendors of the previously loved) there are many styles from the 1980s and 1990s that have been retired and are now part of the coveted vintage collection.
Pearl and Beaded Necklaces
Collectable vintage pieces include multiple strands of freshwater pearls, cultured pearls, or polished beads of black onyx or hematite. Sometimes black and white strands are combined. Pearl and beaded necklaces are twisted in torsade style and include up to eight strands. Most appear to have double hooped closers. Rarer are works in lapis, or combinations of moonstone and fluorite that match the blue Tiffany box.
Many large gold and silver brooches are retired from the collection, but these vintage styles are still available through vendors. Think curvaceously illustrated plumes, bold geometrics, and the occasional stylized animal motifs. Gold floral brooches have a hand drawn quality.
Bar shaped brooches are particularly interesting, with five cabochon semi-precious stones, harking back to Renaissance styles. Think aquamarine, pink tourmaline, citrine, green tourmaline, and amethyst.
Carved jewelry by Paloma Picasso might be missed by the collector. Look for floral images carved directly from stones such as rhodonite, pink tourmaline, and opal. Some have leaves carved from bloodstone. Multifaceted gemstones are used for the center of each bloom, and may include a solo diamond, yellow sapphire, peridot, or green tourmaline. Pieces from this collection are set in 18 carat gold. You will find both earrings and brooches on the market.
Works in Museums
Fine jewelry falls under the category of decorative arts. It’s not surprising that you will find one of a kind Paloma Picasso designs in the permanent collections of museums. In the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History visitors can view her 398.30 carat kunzite necklace. In Chicago, The Field Museum of Natural History houses her bracelet design that incorporates a 408.63 carat moonstone, with diamonds.
Identifying Paloma Picasso Jewelry
To identify Paloma Picasso jewelry, look for her name in full, written in script. Some pieces may have the additional stamp, Tiffany & Co. The designs may even come in the Tiffany blue box or pouch.
Tips for Buying
Of course, new, and classic Paloma Picasso jewelry is available through Tiffany & Co., in locations worldwide. For retired, discontinued, and pre-loved pieces, look for online vendors on Etsy and eBay.
When purchasing outside of Tiffany & Co., look for signs of damage, such as scratches, loose stones, broken pieces, and subpar repairs. If you are not buying in person, check the seller’s photographs well. Ask for additional images, if needed. Also, read the conditions report. Purchase from a reputable seller with 5-star reviews.
Buy the pieces that truly speak to you. Jewelry should be a pleasure to own and wear.
As one of the top jewelry designers, for not only Tiffany & Co., but throughout the world, pieces from Paloma Picasso are highly collectable. These are quality pieces that are worth adding to your jewelry box and enjoy wearing.