Louis Comfort Tiffany (American, 18481933)
Opals, gold, enamel; Overall L. 18 in. (45.7 cm)
Gift of Sarah E. Hanley, 1946 (46.168.1)
This necklace, composed of grape clusters and leaves, is one of the earliest known examples of jewelry designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiny black opals represent the clusters of fruit, and finely executed enameling in shades of green on gold forms the delicate leaves. Opals appealed to Tiffany for their fiery glow, reminiscent of his vases in Favrile glass. The asymmetry of the design and its organic shapes are entirely in keeping with his passion for natural forms. This necklace was among the twenty-seven pieces that Tiffany made for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis in 1904. It has been altered twice since its original conception, first by the addition of grape clusters on either side of the central pendant and later by the addition of a double bar-link chain. These changes were probably overseen by Tiffany himself, who is believed to have presented the necklace to his nurse and later companion, Sarah E. Hanley.