The Tiffany dove into its archives and came back up with hands full of treasure. If you enter the Tiffany Landmark store at 57th and Fifth at the correct time, you'll notice a diamondJean Schlumberger bird fluttering over a screen. If you miss it, the genuine thing is a few steps away, atop a massive amethystin a vitrine.
Another is perched on a kunzite, a citrine, an aquamarine, and what appears to be morganite. That is only the first floor. The fourth story has a special Schlumberger area, while the seventh floor, which features Tiffany High Jewelry, is dominated by Schlumberger.
More than 30 famous visitors, including the three men behind the whole affair, Alexandre Arnault, Tiffany CEO Anthony Ledru, and architect Peter Marino, donned his items at the opening of the Landmark in New York in May.
In reality, Schlumberger is the sole inspiration for Out of the Blue, the new Blue Book collection, which is the brand's first fully realized collection since LVMH purchased it.
Why did Tiffany place such a large wager on this highly inventive Frenchman and his bejeweled passerines? Tiffany is a sucker for huge bets. Consider the Landmark itself.
Tiffany's clients relocated north in 1940, and instead of merely a storefront on suddenly fashionable Fifth Avenue, it took over the entire corner. When Charles Lewis Tiffany went to buy the French crown jewels for his provenance-hungry American clientele, he bought about a third of the lots.
When he hired George Kunz in 1879, he didn't expect him to find lovely stones; instead, he tasked him with scouring the world for ones that hadn't even been discovered yet.
Charles Comfort's son, Louis Comfort Tiffany appreciated uncommon and unexpected stones that matched nature's uneven beauty in both his glasswork and his jewelry creation, as per family tradition.
The Medusa necklace, made by Louis Comfort in 1902, is displayed under glass in one corner of the Landmark's main floor, not far from the Basquiat. For a reported $3.65 million, the firm purchased it for its own archives in 2021.
Consider the wildness of its goldborders and the abundant usage of opaland demantoid garnet. It is said to represent the "opalescent glow of the jellyfish in its Medusa cycle." Schlumberger is best known for creating a brooch for his customer Bunny Mellon after she was bitten by a jellyfish in 1967.
It's easy to see how Schlumberger fit right in when he was hired by Tiffany's visionary chairman, Walter Hoving, in 1956. His work reflects the complete tale of Tiffany, one that is sometimes veiled by the picture of Audrey Hepburn nibbling chicly on a croissant, or by a silverheart on a necklace, in its audacity and wit, as well as his creative attention on the natural world.
Ledru says, referring to Schlumberger’s iconic design and underlining Tiffany’s heritage of discovering rare and unusual stones, which began with Kunz:
His work is the purest definition of Tiffany High Jewelry. Nature and stones are at the heart of everything we do. He brought his creative mind without losing the integrity of the brand and what we stood for. The bird is smaller than the rock. His proportions are almost supernatural. It’s not about perfection, which makes them contemporary; they can move from one century to another.- Ledru
The idea of the fluidity of the years, the decades, is central. The Out of the Blue collection is rooted in the Schlumberger archives and aesthetic, but it imagines his vision leaping into the 21st century.
The question was, "What would Schlumberger do now?" "We both preserved and magnified the fundamentals of Jean Schlumberger’s aesthetic, staying true to our heritage while reinventing it," Nathalie Verdeille, chief artistic officer for jewelry and high jewelry, says.
Today, thanks to the know-how of our artisans and modern innovations, we have achieved the once impossible. There is nothing more modern than pushing boundaries and creating with a passion to explore the unknown. This idea was, of course, close to Schlumberger’s heart as well.- Nathalie Verdeille
He possessed a wild imagination. What he lacked was the cuprian elbaite tourmaline. One facet of the progression shown in Out of the Blue is the discovery of colorful stones since Schlumberger's death.
Consider what he could have done with that tourmaline. What do you think he'd think of something like Sonoranite? The tools of 21st-century craftsmanship are also important, particularly 3D wax models that allow his distinctive exaggerations to be even more intricately realized—and more user-friendly.
Schlumberger fish braceletscan be hefty, but bulk can now be handled and balanced. Each piece's technical skill is enhanced; if something isn't ideal, the designer can see it right immediately in a 3D model and fix it.
Out of the Blue is the largest Blue Book collection ever: 70 pieces were unveiled this summer and another 67 coming in the fall. The stones in its pieces are all procured by hand and all cut to fit.
All the rubies, sapphires, and emeralds in the Blue Book are untreated, a point of justified pride. “In Schlumberger’s imagination and design philosophy,” says Verdeille, who joined Tiffany in 2021, “the sea represented an unknown, infinite world.
His jewels are microcosms. Out of the Blue draws inspiration from that, then reinvents this universe. It is a deep dive into aquatic life.”
In classic Tiffany and Schlumberger fashion, there is a jellyfish brooch with a cushion-cut unenhanced blue sapphireweighing more than 8 carats.
A diamond convertible seashell pendant, with three-dimensional architecture and function, opens to expose a pear-shaped cabochon black opalweighing more than 21 carats.
Brooches in the Pisces chapter of the collection are adorned with excellent padparadschasapphires, diamonds, and rubellites. One of the most daring items is a star urchin bib necklace made of hand-carved chalcedony spikes and studded with 59 carats of tanzanite. "I hope he would be proud," Ledru says.
The series is also a statement on Tiffany's elite jewelry status. "If you excel at this you excel at everything," says Ledru. "It is the ultimate dream, the championship game.
There can be no compromise." That is why the seventh floor of the Landmark pays thanks to the craftspeople who make it all possible by providing a glimpse into their work.
That is why, in April, LVMH purchased what has been regarded as Paris' most important workshop, increasing the ability to create these elaborate handcrafted pieces and increasing the number of les mains working on them, allowing for more jewelry and more complicated realizations. What would Schlumberger do in this situation? We'll have to wait and see.