Ah, Tiffany … This iconic brand has captivated jewelry lovers for nearly two centuries.
Their trademark blue box has set hearts aflutter and played an essential part in millions of love stories around the world.
Tiffany & Company is known primarily for their luxury-quality diamond jewelry, meticulously crafted Sterling Silver and their stunning High Jewelry Collections created each year with a different theme and released in the infamous Tiffany Blue Book.
But did you know that Tiffany also sells pearls?
That’s right. Some of the most beautiful pearl jewelry in the world is crafted by Tiffany, and in fact they have a long and storied history going back over 175 years to its founding in 1837.
This post examines Tiffany’s pearls – their pros and cons – and whether taking the plunge and purchasing pearls from this celebrated brand is worth the price.
Vintage Tiffany & Co pearl jewelry advertisement from 1964. I would still wear this necklace ... the classics never die.
Tiffany sells all major pearl types: Japanese Akoya, Chinese Freshwater, black Tahitian pearls from French Polynesia, and of course, White and Golden South Sea pearls.
These Tahitian and South Sea Pearl rings mounted on unique diamond ring designs are a Tiffany & Co exclusive design – gorgeous! Photo via The Jewellery Editor
Their most commonly sold pearls are the classic white Akoya and white Freshwater pearl types. which are used in their Tiffany Essentials, Tiffany Signature, the Ziegfeld Collection (created for the film The Great Gatsby), Elsa Peretti and Victoria pearl lines.
More on those later.
Historical Point of Interest: Tiffany & Co. has long had a love affair with pearls, particularly American Freshwater pearls. The famous gemologist George Kunz was employed by Charles Tiffany and his artistic (and very famous) son, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Kunz was particularly enamored with American Freshwater pearls, and amassed a large collection of pearls from the Mississippi River for Tiffany.
The famous Chrysanthemum Brooch created by Tiffany jeweler G. Paulding Farnham. Designed in 1904 this stunning brooch was made with “Dog Tooth” shaped American Freshwater pearls and diamonds. Tiffany produced many different sizes of this brooch during the time period.
Tiffany’s sell some VERY high-quality pearls, and their jewelry craftsmanship is impeccable. Their Tahitian and South Sea pearl jewelry offerings are nothing less than gorgeous.
This dazzling Tahitian Pearl Necklace is set with pavé diamond rondelles by Tiffany. Check out those colors!!
For Akoya and Freshwater pearl collections however, the offerings start to get a bit more “every day pearlish" ... as much as I hate to say it.
These pearl types tend to be more of a mid-high level pearl quality … I would expect to see these at big box retailers rather than a luxury jewelry house.
The Freshwater pearls used are either Oval to Drop-Shaped or are Near-Round to Round AAA Quality pearls, as is the case of the Peretti and Picasso lines.
This Elsa Peretti Freshwater Pearl Bracelet features smooth Drop-Shaped and Oval pearls measuring 5.0-5.5mm in size. The multi-strand bracelet is finished with a sleek Sterling Silver toggle clasp and retails for $1,250.00 … The Freshwater Drops on their own are worth approximately $20.00
Akoya Pearl Necklaces are of course True Round in shape with Excellent Luster, Surface Quality, Matching and Overtones, with luxury quality knotting work, 18K Gold clasps and mountings. The pearls themselves are high quality gems, but not as impressive as Mikimoto’s Japanese Akoya.
This Freshwater pearl pendant mounted on a Sterling Silver bale and chain retailed for $300 approximately.
For traditional items like a pair of classic Akoya stud earrings or a single strand necklace, I personally feel you could easily get as good as - or better - for a lower price. There are many pearl specialty boutiques that don’t have quite so high a markup, and are able to offer a similar pearl quality.
Tiffany produces many pearl jewelry designs that are completely unique to their brand. Their mountings, diamond accents and pearl necklace clasps are all meticulously crafted.
In the words of Mary Poppins: they are practically perfect in every way.
This Freshwater Pearl Tassel Necklace with Sterling Silver accents (Daisy Heart Locket and Chain is separate) is a good example of the luxury quality craftsmanship that Tiffany & Co regularly creates.
My advice is that if you are on the hunt for a particular and unique Tiffany pearl jewelry design, then you would be best served by going directly to the source.
You’ll not only be able to get the experience of shopping at Tiffany & Company, but your jewelry will be exquisitely crafted. In addition, your pearls will be maintained for their lifetime by a luxury brand that stands by its reputation for excellent customer service.
Tiffany & Co has flagship locations located in some of the biggest metropolises around the world: London, Shanghai, Tokyo, Paris, New York, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas … the list goes on.
Each one of those locations is exquisitely designed and furnished, and is fully stocked with gorgeous jewelry and a knowledgeable staff.
In addition, Tiffany employs some of the most accomplished gemstone buyers, jewelry designers and bench jewelers in the industry to craft their stunning jewels and unique High Jewelry Collections.
Each Tiffany & Co retail location is unique – but all share one thing in common: that iconic Tiffany Blue. This boutique is located in Sri Lanka. Makes me want to go shopping!
Tiffany is also known for their incredible marketing campaigns (both print and digital) that are simply a cut above. Photographers, graphic designers, ad agencies and ad space … That all costs a pretty penny (a REALLY pretty penny!).
This ad from Christmas 2015 has always charmed my socks off.
Lastly, there is a premium attached to a luxury jewelry brand responsible for setting some of the biggest trends in jewelry each year.
It all adds up to rather expensive jewelry!
At Tiffany of course!
If your heart is set on genuine Tiffany jewelry, then it’s time to get dressed in your best and make an appointment for a showing. It is quite an experience!
Tiffany & Company doesn't just sell jewelry; they are also Sterling Silver specialists, and create gorgeous flatware and servingware, among other items.
You may also purchase Tiffany pearl jewelry using their website if you can’t make it to the boutique in person (although I do recommend being IN the store if you can get there!). The website is beautifully designed and easy to navigate.
Other places to purchase Tiffany pearls are at online estate jewelers such as 1st Dibs and Ruby Lane. Keep in mind that these dealers only deal in estate, vintage and antique pieces, not brand-new jewelry, which you can only purchase at Tiffany itself. These sites are an excellent option if you are in the market to find a retired design that you fell in love with.
You can also find vintage Tiffany pearls at Etsy and various resellers like Encore Resale, and of course, eBay, but BUYER BEWARE. eBay is notorious for having fakes and imitation jewelry for many famous brands, so you really need to know what to look for when purchasing vintage Tiffany to avoid getting scammed.
The Tiffany Signature pearl line features fine quality Japanese Akoya pearls exclusively, and consists of classic white pearl jewelry, and a few diamond-accented designs.
Single strand Akoya Pearl Necklaces, Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings and Pearl Pendants are all found in this collection.
Items like Akoya Pearl Earrings and Pendants feature VS1-G diamond accents weighing 0.08cts each, mounted in 18K Gold.
The classic Tiffany Signature Akoya Pearl Necklace features their famous Tiffany X-Clasp in 18K White Gold. The 16-Inch, 6.5-7.0mm Japanese Akoya pearls retail for $4,000.00
These Signature Tiffany Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings measure 6.0-6.5mm, and retail for $400.00
The Tiffany Essentials line is a continuation of the Signature Collection but consists only of Japanese Akoya Pearl Necklaces (single strands) and Bracelets finished with 18K Gold Lobster Clasps and engraved 18K Charms.
This Akoya pearl necklace from the Tiffany & Co Essentials Collection features fine AAA Quality pearls measuring 7.0-7.5mm, 16-Inches in length and is finished with an 18K White Gold lobster clasp with an 18K White Gold Charm attached, inscribed with Tiffany & Co. The pearls retail for $2,500.00. Image courtesy of Encore Resale
You can save over $1,000 on similar quality pearls at a pearl specialty retailer. These are quite lovely though, no doubt about it. Image courtesy of Encore Resale
Other major pearl jewelry collections from Tiffany & Co include:
The Ziegfeld Collection features nice quality Freshwater pearls set in Sterling Silver designs created to compliment the jewelry Tiffany & Company made for the movie The Great Gatsby.
Pearls by the Yard by Elsa Peretti, which feature Drop-Shaped Freshwater pearls wire-wrapped onto Sterling Silver chains similar to Tin Cup jewelry.
Pearls by Paloma Picasso, which consist of Near-Round Freshwater pearls mounted with an olive-leaf motif (I actually quite like this line, which has a simplified, elegant beauty to it).
This unique nature-themed design line by Paloma Picasso is easily my favorite of all the "regular" Tiffany pearl offerings. Delicate, minimalist and sophisticated.
The last major pearl collection worth mentioning is the Tiffany Victoria Collection, which features fine quality Japanese Akoya, Freshwater and South Sea pearls set with sparkling marquise-cut diamonds arranged in a cross pattern.
My answer is (as usual, haha!) IT DEPENDS.
If you are shopping for Gem Quality South Sea pearls or Tahitian pearl jewelry, then Tiffany & Company pearls rank high up there … I do not think they’re Mikimoto-tier, obviously, but then again - that’s not their milieu.
Certainly, Tiffany offers high quality Japanese Akoya pearls, and good looking Freshwater pearls in their collections. But …. are they worth that price tag? It gets pretty steep.
If you absolutely MUST have that little blue box, then go for it! You will not be disappointed with your purchase.
If you want to stretch your dollar a bit more than that, then I’d recommend shopping around before taking the plunge.
So … how does Pure Pearls match up against Tiffany for pearls?
Pretty nicely, I think!
If we compare apples to apples, then shopping at Pure for a Classic Pearl Necklace or pair of Akoya Pearl Studs can save you THOUSANDS, even if you splurge and purchase our highest quality Akoya possible: the Hanadama Akoya Pearl Collection.
Our Hanadama Akoya Pearl Collection features some of the finest certified pears sourced from the top 1% of each yearly pearl harvests …
Classic Akoya Pearl Stud Earrings at Tiffany & Co start at $400 for the smallest 6.0-6.5mm size; comparatively at PurePearls.com, prices begin around $197 for our 6.5-7.0mm Akoya Studs, and PSL Certified Hanadama Pearl Earrings start at just $375.00 for our most popular pearl earring size ever: 7.0-7.5mm.
What I also like about Pure Pearls is that all our pearl jewelry is created by hand, to order, here at our Los Angeles, CA workshop. The ability to tailor your pearls to your tastes exactly is unmatched by larger big name brands, without sacrificing quality.
We skip out on the massive advertising campaigns and large employee base, so our mark-ups for items like Pearl and Diamond Pendants don't need to be nearly as large as other well-known luxury brands.
By operating with reduced overhead (no expensive advertising budgets, no fancy retail locations) and cutting out the middlemen by buying our pearls direct from the pearl farmers and auctions themselves, we can save our customers THOUSANDS of dollars on similar purchases from luxury brands.
Again however, I'd like to reiterate that if you're looking for a Tiffany specific design - then only Tiffany will do. This Jewelry House truly is an American Icon (just ask Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, who received her first pearl set from Tiffany!), and sometimes ... that little blue box is the only one that can satisfy.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.
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