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I was recently invited to a “Bridal Breakfast at Tiffany’s” event at the South Coast Plaza store by its Group Director Michael Botsko. It seems the iconic store is celebrating 175 years, and Botsko wanted to talk about its amazing history and show us some marvelous baubles.

Botsko shared that Charles Lewis Tiffany and two partners established a stationery and fancy goods store in lower Manhattan in 1837. First-day sales were $4.95, and that was probably a respectable sum in those days. The retailer was known for its remarkable selection of silver objects, later called Tiffany Silver, and today, Tiffany Silver from that period is seen in museums around the world. During this time, the company also designed beautiful objets ‘art, collectibles today, and Tiffany, after buying out his partners in 1870, introduced jewelry to the collection. In 1878, he purchased a rough diamond weighing 287 carats, and, after having the stone cut to its maximum brilliance, it became known as the 128.54-carat fancy yellow Tiffany Diamond. Yes, that is the stunning yellow diamond you saw Audrey Hepburn wearing in the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which exists today reset in a magnificent necklace with more than 100 carats of brilliant white diamonds on permanent display in the Manhattan store. Later, in 1886, Tiffany introduced what would become known as the Tiffany Setting, the famous six-prong solitaire diamond engagement ring that lifts the diamond above the band, allowing more light to pass through the stone to reveal an amazing sparkle. It was in 1887, when the visionary jeweler purchased the French Crown Jewels, that he became known as “The King of Diamonds.” Tiffany also made history in the late 1800’s when he designed the brand’s iconic blue box, choosing that particular color of blue in honor of France’s Princess Eugenia, who was a fan of Marie Antoinette and had bought her entire collection of turquoise jewelry.

Tiffany’s son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, already famous from his work creating sumptuous glass lamps, stained-glass windows, mosaics, and enamels, became Tiffany & Co.’s first design director in 1902. Through his leadership, followed by jewelry designers Jean Schlumberger, Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, and Frank O. Gehry, the store’s design focus has continued to flourish and beautiful pieces created.

Among the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” guests, most of whom were media like myself, was Meagan Tandy, who was Miss California in the 2007 Miss USA Pageant (she was third runner-up in the finals). Tandy, who starred as Denzel Washington’s daughter in the movie “Unstoppable” and is currently in ABC’s “Jane By Design,” said she loves diamonds, as she tried on a stunning 14-carat yellow diamond ring. “It is amazing,” she said in awe. That pretty much summed up everyone’s feelings about Tiffany & Co. This internationally-recognized and respected brand has practically grown up with our country, and, standing the test of time, is truly a national treasure!

Photos: Ann Chatillon