If you are looking for vintage Tiffany & Co. Jewelry, you have come to the right place. In this article you will learn about the history of the brand, who the designers were, what marks are used to identify jewelry, what materials are most common, and where to buy.
Tiffany has been a beloved fixture in American culture and society for nearly two centuries. It was as cherished during the Gilded Age as it is today on red carpets around the world. Tiffany is an iconic brand, one that deserves a place in your jewelry collection.
Brief History of Tiffany & Co. Jewelry
In 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and his friend, John Barnett Young, opened Tiffany & Young, a stationery and fancy goods shop on Broadway in New York City funded with a $1,000 loan from Charles’s father. The shop made $4.38 (± $112 today) its first three days in business and grew to be a favorite among the fashionable ladies of the day. Its first innovation was to mark each item with a price and eliminate bartering, the common means of exchange.
In 1841, Charles and John took on a partner, and the shop became Tiffany, Young & Ellis. Silverware, watches and clocks were added to the inventory. By 1845, the trio had gotten rid of all cheaper products and began dealing in fine jewelry. They revolutionized jewelry marketing with their “Blue Book,” the first-ever mail-order catalog in the United States. Today, the annual Tiffany Blue Book is a breathtaking collection of magnificent couture jewelry set.
The distinctive “robin’s egg blue” of the catalog has, from the beginning, been associated with Tiffany’s until it became officially “Tiffany Blue” on the Pantone Matching System and is trademarked for use only by Tiffany. The Tiffany Blue Box, also trademarked, is easily the most recognizable and appealing packaging in the world.
In the 1850s, Charles bought out both of his partners and Tiffany & Co. was established.
In 1867, Tiffany’s entered the world stage when it won the grand prize for silver craftsmanship at the World’s Fair in Paris. It cemented its growing reputation for the ultimate in luxury goods when, in 1878, it acquired a fancy yellow diamond weighing 287+ carats mined in South Africa. The finished gem, 128+ carats with 82 facets, now the “Tiffany Diamond,” resides in the flagship store in New York City.
In 1886, Tiffany’s introduced the “Tiffany Setting,” a six-prong setting that lifted the diamond off the band to maximize its fire and radiance. Once again, Charles revolutionized the diamond industry and, in doing so, positioned the United States as world-leading destination for engagement rings. With it all, Charles did not become the “King of Diamonds” until he bought one-third of the French Crown Jewels in 1887. In 1889, designer George Paulding Farnham won a gold medal at the Paris Exposition for his life-sized orchids rendered in gold and enamel.
Charles passed away in 1902, and his son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, became design director. Art Nouveau was becoming very popular, and his nature-inspired jewelry established him as a leader in the movement.
Tiffany’s did not do well during the Great Depression and World War II, and recovery was slow. In 1978, the company was sold to Avon Products and continued to decline. Avon failed to live up to the long-established culture of luxury. In 1984, an investor group bought Tiffany’s and the company returned to its former glory while including more affordable items.
PS: Tiffany & Co. designed the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Great Seal of the United States on the $1 bill, and the Vince Lombardi Trophy given to the winner of the Super Bowl.
Tiffany & Co. Jewelry Designers
Edward C. Moore was the jewelry design director from 1851 to 1891. He is most responsible for garnering for Tiffany the initial respect and admiration of European jewelers. His designs won first place in silver at the World’s Fair in Paris, and he was instrumental in winning the gold medals in Paris’s International Exposition.
George Paulding Farnham studied under Edward Moore, but quickly distinguished himself as a skillful and innovative artist. His orchids, exact replicas of actual flowers, were designed in gold, enamel and gemstones. They impressed jewelers around the world. Despite his superb talent and the high regard he brought to Tiffany, Louis Comfort Tiffany “facilitated his exit” from Tiffany’s due to “creative differences.”
Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of founder Charles, started out as a painter, then went into interior decorating, and became eternally famous for his work in stained glass. He began working on jewelry when he took over the company after his father’s death. He used unconventional gems and enamels. He excelled in pieces that used the opal, a favorite during the Art Nouveau movement and reminiscent of the iridescent favrile glass that he created and patented.
Jean Schlumberger is one of the 20th century’s most gifted jewelry artists. He started his career in Paris designing costume jewelry for Elsa Schiaparelli, then bespoke pieces for his own clientele. In 1956, he was hired by Tiffany’s, and they built him his own design studio and gave him unlimited access to the finest colored stones in the world. He used gemstones as a painter uses his palette and created objects of mesmerizing beauty.
Elsa Peretti was born in Florence and moved to New York City to pursue a modeling career. She liked to create jewelry for the fashion designers and established an impressive reputation in jewelry design. She joined Tiffany’s in 1974 and depicted everyday forms (e.g., a bean, an apple, a snake) in intriguing ways. One of her most iconic designs is the Bone Cuff. Her silver pieces with their affordable prices attracted the younger generation, exactly what Tiffany’s wanted.
Paloma Picasso, daughter of Pablo, began her career as a costume designer in Paris. Her rhinestone jewelry was receiving great praise, and Yves Saint Laurent commissioned her to design accessories for one of his collections. In 1980, Paloma began designing jewelry for Tiffany & Co. She had a boldly original style using brilliant-colored gemstone, and at Tiffany’s, she had access to more gemstones than she ever imagined.
Frank Gehry, a Canadian, is one of the world’s most esteemed architects. In 2003, he established a partnership with Tiffany & Co. to create an exclusive jewelry collection in which he explores the expressiveness of precious metals, wood and stone. Frank’s jewelry is evocative of the spontaneous twists and turns found in his innovative buildings.
Jean Vitau designed for Tiffany, as well as other fine jewelry houses. He came to New York City from France with three rings in his pocket. The rings were fashioned with an innovative bar-style setting that he had invented. The stones were held very securely without the risk of catching on or snagging clothing as prongs so. Jean’s setting revolutionized the wedding ring market.
- Every piece of jewelry is stamped with the Tiffany & Co. mark and the mark of the metal, such as “Tiffany & Co. 925” or “T & Co. 925” for silver pieces.
- Special edition collections created by Frank Gehry, Paloma Picasso, Jean Schlumberger, and Elsa Peretti are also signed by the designers.
- Some pieces may be marked with date of the trademark as well.
- The engraving is always clear and sharp and the font thin and precise.
Precious Metals: Almost exclusively gold, platinum and silver, all from traceable mines or recycled sources with an emphasis on sustainability and without the potential of financing armed conflicts and human rights abuses.
Diamonds: All from conflict-free and socially and environmentally responsible mines and suppliers.
Colored Gemstones: Mining precious gems is a cultural tradition and source of livelihoods in more than 40 countries. About 80% of Tiffany’s colored gemstones come from these small-scale, mines.
Note: Tiffany’s does not purchase rubies and jadeite that are mined in Myanmar due to human rights violations nor lapis from Afghanistan.
Tiffany introduced us to a previously unknown colored gemstones, such as kunzite, a purplish-pink gem; morganite, peach-pink; tanzanite, blue-violet; tsavorite, a green garnet.
Tiffany’s sourced gems from around the U.S.:
- Maine, primarily tourmaline, but, in smaller quantities, aquamarine, beryl, topaz, smoky quartz, rose quartz, and amethyst.
- Colorado, aquamarine, rhodochrosite, topaz and amazonite.
- Montana, “blue pebbles” eventually recognized as sapphires.
Pearls: Tiffany’s sources pearls from healthy mollusks in clean water, mostly from pearl farmers and suppliers that are transparent in their practices.
Other Materials: Enamels
Note: Coral and ivory are never used because they cannot be sourced ethically.
Most Collectible Vintage Tiffany & Co. Jewelry
Collectors worldwide seek out vintage Tiffany estate jewelry because of its craftsmanship, beauty and enduring value. Here are only a sampling of the many in-demand collections.
- Victoria Collection: Designs handcrafted with a unique combination of cuts featuring diamonds with incomparable intensity.
- Atlas Collection: Timeless motifs inspired by the Atlas clock on the façade of Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue.
- Metro Collection: Cosmopolitan glamour captured in rows of diamonds twinkling like a city skyline.
- Tiffany Flowers: Orchids, rosebud or lilac spray in gold, enamel and gemstones; iris brooch set with Montana sapphires; and chrysanthemum brooch set with Mississippi River pearls.
- Enamel Bangles: Designed by Jean Schlumberger.
- Bone Bangle: Designed by Elsa Peretti.
- Graffiti Jewels: Designed by Paloma Picasso.
Tips for Buying Vintage Tiffany & Co. Jewelry - How to Avoid Fakes
- Tiffany & Co. jewelry comes in the signature Tiffany Blue box with a velvet drawstring bag inside the box that is tied with a white satin ribbon.
- Tiffany does not have sales, does not discount their pieces and does not have outlet stores. If you suspect the deal you are getting is too good to be true, odds are high that you are right.
- All Tiffany jewelry is made in the USA. You won’t ever see “Made in China” (or anyplace else) on an authentic piece.
- Tiffany always solders the links on their pieces, never pinches them together. The soldering is perfectly smooth and precise.
- Tiffany only uses the finest materials: No fake gemstones, no plated or filled metal. Stones are well matched and evenly set.
- The back or underside of the piece has as much attention to detail as the front.
- Check the markings - if you see any misspellings or alignment issues it is a fake. The mark should be centered and not too close to the edge.
Wondering where to find vintage Tiffany and Co. jewelry? One excellent source is Etsy.com. Make sure to keep the following tips in mind when shopping:
- Find sellers with lots of positive reviews and happy customers.
- Look for sellers with good photos and close-ups of signature/hallmarks.
- Seek out sellers that have decades of experience and certifications as gemologists.
Here are some reputable sellers we have vetted out to get you started:
Another vital source for vintage jewelry is eBay. There is a large selection of vintage Tiffany and Co. jewelry there.
Do you own any vintage Tiffany and Co jewelry? If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to help you out!
34 thoughts on “Vintage Tiffany & Co. Jewelry Buying Guide”
Can you tell me if there was ever a time that the Tiffany rings were not marked with the Tiffany stamp? I have a 14k gold 1.1ct brilliant cut diamond ring but there is no Tiffany mark in it. It belonged to my grandmother, given to her by her mother. It is kept within a vintage red burgundy Tiffany of Paris ring box.
Hi Marie, as far as I know, all jewelry made by Tiffany and Co. is marked. Is it possible the mark has been worn away?
Was any Tiffany 14K gold jewelry ever made in Italy? I have a necklace that is marked Tiffany & Co on one side of the plate link connecting the necklace to the clasp. On the other it says Italy and 14K.
Hi Tracy, thanks for stopping in 🙂 Yes, some Tiffany Jewelry is made in Italy.
I have purchased a crown key where the Tiffany & Co looks white or printed on perfectly but it is not etched in. Isn’t all Tiffany & Co etched or engraved?
Hi Melissa, thanks for your question 🙂 As far as I know, all Tiffany jewelry marks are engraved.
I have a pair of vintage 14k gold Tiffany knot earrings with a pearl center. They are marked Tiffany ( on the back of the earrings on an angle) 14k. I have seen similar earrings online with he same markings. I am wondering if you have ever seen this?
Hi Nancy, thanks for stopping in. I have seen earrings in this style, I am assuming these are stud earrings? Most of the tiffany earrings I am familiar with have the marking on the bar of the stud earring and then a marking on the backs. The back markings are usually straight or curved to conform to the shape of the backing.
I have a gorgeous oval shaped (heavy) silver oval pendant clearly marked “T & Co 925”, has 2 beautiful smooth weld seams. It’s a stunning piece. Almost hate to ask!
I purchased second hand, feel very certain it’s legit. It wasn’t marketed as a Tiffany; was mixed in with inexpensive junk.
I spotted it, noting the weight, quality & marking-very quickly bought for $15.
I have lots of 925 silver (from legit shops) & this looks great as all others. Daily wear, no color changes. Please tell how to know if it’s real..
Hi Rita, it sounds like you got yourself a legit Tiffany & Co piece of jewelry! Is the marking well-defined and crisp? I would compare the marking you see on your piece with markings here and here.
I recently purchased a vintage antique platinum and diamond bracelet made by Tiffany & Co. dated around the 1920’s. I have contacted a nationally renowned jewellery expert (in Holland) who inspected the item and confirmed that it is indeed what it purports to be and that it comes with it's original box.
I am very keen to know more about this piece as I have seen nothing quite like it on the internet and it does not look like a mass produced line/design and therefore wonder if it is a bespoke piece… Unfortunately I was unable to attach some photos of the diamond bracelet however I found a youtube link of something similar ( https://youtu.be/7yghc0Dmkns ). I wonder if you might know more about this piece or where I might find out more?
Hello Judith, Wow, what a find! Tiffany did make Art Deco style diamond and platinum bracelets in the 1920’s. I found some on 1stdibs:
They are very very valuable pieces of history!
Hi there Andrea, I recently purchased some Tiffany jewelry online and was hoping you could help me! The first order was a 24" twisted .925 18k rope chain with the matching 7" bracelet. The second order was a matching 18" chain in the same style. Upon receiving the second order, I noticed some different in the Tiffany gift boxes. The color is identical, but upon close inspection one of them has a very intricate "T" pattern and the other does not. My thinking was maybe one was vintage and the other was not, or maybe a replacement from a different piece or possibly purchased 3rd party. Not sure though, looking for a second opinion!
My other question is on the soldering. On the chains previously mentioned, you can see where it is soldered upon close inspection. It's not poorly done by any means, it's very smooth and hardly visible and the link is nice and straight. From what I could see online in pictures, it looked like it was visible on every other chain in this style. This goes against what you had written here so I was looking for another opinion. Again, I was thinking perhaps the quality is different of the pieces are vintage 90's. The set is nice and heavy, the rest of the hallmarks are beautifully done and straight! It looks and feels beautiful all around.
Hi there Andrew, thanks for your questions. I am not sure about the box design, it sounds like it may not be authentic…I have not seen a Tiffany box like you are describing. The soldering sounds like it is consistent with genuine Tiffany and Co. quality. In the article I say, “Tiffany always solders the links on their pieces, never pinches them together. The soldering is perfectly smooth and precise.” This sounds in line with the solder quality you are describing 🙂
I was wondering if bone cuffs were ever made in 14k gold. I saw one for sale on ebay and wanted to know about authenticity.
Hi Catherine, thanks for stopping in 🙂 I have seen bone cuffs made in gold. Bone cuffs were designed by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany and Co. and the cuff bracelet should be marked with Elsa Peretti and Tiffany and Co. if it is authentic. I hope that helps!
My question is I just purchased an older padlock Tif & Co ring. Does the older jewelry contain more silver or heavier?
Hi Patty, real silver jewelry will have weight to it, so I don’t think the weight of Tiffany jewelry should have changed. Tiffany always uses real metals, never plated or filled.
Is there a place to go to find out what year a piece of jewelry is from? I found a large return to Tiffany heart on a 34 inch beaded chain and it had a serial number on the heart. I’m wondering what year these were made. Thanks!
Hi Elisabeth, it would be best to contact Trifari with your serial number, they should be able to help you date the item 🙂
I have a gold and diamond Return to Tiffany pendant which I am reasonably certain is legit. The markings are well centered, in the right font etc…
However, compared to what I found online, it has some extra markings (hallmarks?) on the handle where it's supposed to hang by the necklace. They are very small and I do not have professional tools but they seem to be like this:
T&CO (space) (crown symbol) (space) (750) (symbol – may be a tiger?) (space) (m)
This is really tiny and I could be mistaken on some of the symbols but I doubt any fake would have this as most pictures I see online do not have this detail.
What do you make of it? Could it be an older piece?
I think your pendant is legit. The extra hallmarks stand for T&Co (Tiffany & Co). The crown means it is gold. the 750 purity mark means it is 18-karat gold, or 75% gold. I’m not sure about the tiger (?) symbol but I’m pretty sure you have an authentic piece. Return To Tiffany jewelry had a unique registration number, ensuring that if it was lost, it could be returned to its owner via a Tiffany store. The other marking on your pendant could be part of that registration mark. The Return To Tiffany pendant collection first came out in the 1980s, so I think yours is probably from around then.
Hope this helps!
Hi there! I have a puffed heart Silver necklace but the chain has a little round tag near the clasp that has a large T and it looks like C . Did Tiffany ever stamp the little sterling tag like that?
Hi Lauren, if your necklace is an authentic Tiffany piece, it should have the 925 silver mark on it, indicating it contains 92.5% silver. It should either have the name Tiffany & Co. written out or ‘T & Co.’ Is it just a ‘C’ or is it ‘T & Co?’
I'm very confused. I took a 'Tiffany & Co' vintage brooch into a Tiffany store to be authenticated and valued and was told it was not authentic because it was made of 14K gold…on the other hand, I see a lot of 14K gold jewellery that has apparently been authenticated and have had a highly respected jeweller tell me that 14K gold is generally a sign that it was made in the USA as this was the most commonly used gold in America in the early 1900's? I was also told that Tiffany will never mark their jewellery 14K, they will always use the purity numbers, however, again I have had this contradicted by so called experts. Are you able to shed any light on this please? The piece is thought to be around 1928 (ish) and would appear to be of the flowers collection, featuring a freshwater peal.
That’s puzzling. Tiffany does indeed make 14k gold jewelry, which is more durable than 18k. It will have the number 585, indicating that 58.3% of the metal is pure gold and the rest is alloy. If your brooch actually says 14k, however, it may not be real because it should say 585. After 1854, lower karat gold alloys were introduced into the market which meant that jewelry could be made from 15k, 12k or even 9k gold. In Art Deco and Art Nouveau jewelry you will commonly find 14k white or yellow gold. There are plenty of examples of Tiffany 14k vintage pieces online, so I am not sure why the Tiffany store could not authenticate your brooch.
Here are some online sources to help you further: whatsitworthartappraisals.com, valuemystuff.com. or drloriv.com.
Best of luck!
Hiya, Why is some Tiffany dated and my ring isnt? Is there a way to day your Tiffany? Thanks, Lynne
Yes, it’s frustrating sometimes with Tiffany jewelry. It has been marked in many different ways since the company’s inception in the 1830s. Most include Tiffany & Co., although some have the business address 550 Broadway, G & W, or Tiffany Young & Ellis as part of the stamping. The mark T & Co., with the letters superimposed, is also used by Tiffany & Co. The metal content used in many modern pieces is indicated as well. Whether your Tiffany ring is dated or not depends on the particular collection and its designer. Where did you buy it? From an antique store? If you can tell me more, I’ll investigate further.
Thank you for your question!
Recently, I found what I believe is a pre-1974 pair of sterling silver, Tiffany starfish stud earrings. The mark is on the front of the starfish, and it says T & CO 925. I believe it to be pre-Elsa Peretti, because it is symmetrical unlike her stuff. Any help would be appreciated.
Tiffany certainly made stud starfish earrings prior to Elsa Peretti joining them in 1974. Are yours flat silver or do they have the little starfish bumps on them? To be certain of their date, we recommend you ask an an online expert to verify their authenticity. Here are some good contacts for you:
Good luck with them!
Hi! I hope you’re still answering these questions because I’m so incredibly confused.
I have small heart earrings and a matching larger heart necklace with the “Please return to Tiffany & Co.” thing on it. The lettering is centered and does look like it was etched and not stamped, the edges of the hearts are like a right angle rather than rounded. None of it reacts to a magnet… until you get to the lobster clasp on the necklace. However, the biggest thing that’s confusing me is that it’s gold in color but stamped with 925.
I also have a bracelet with the letter “T” on the ends and although the Ts themselves are wonderful quality, but you can see where they join with the wire band some splitting and a teeny tiny area where you can see into it. This is also gold and marked “T & Co.” on one and “Au750 ITALY” on the back of the other. Do I just have a bunch of fakes or are they legit?
I just replied to you above. I’m suspicious that you may have fakes made somewhere overseas. If you send pictures to one of the websites we recommended, hopefully you’ll find out more.
Please let us know what you discover!
All the best,
Do you know if Tiffany & Co. has ever sold gold plated sterling silver? I have a golden necklace and some gold earrings but they’re marked with a 925. They look pretty real–the letters are obviously engraved and not stamped, the hearts all have nice 90 degree angle rather than rounded edges, and they’re non-reactive to a magnet. But it being gold with sterling silver stamps really has me confused.
If you search online you will find examples of gold plated silver Tiffany jewelry. I just found a ring marked 2022 Tiffany T Series T1 Women’s Ring 925 Sterling Silver 18k Gold Plated Belgium. I’m thinking that some overseas Tiffany pieces may be made this way, because Tiffany prides itself on product purity. It’s confusing. Perhaps send some photos to one of the following resources who may be able to help you further:
Good luck with it!