Tiffany & Co.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 706

This brooch belongs to a demi-parure that also includes a matching pair of earrings. A carved coral spray of flowers and leaves with minutely fluted edges is fixed to a naturalistic gold stem with applied pin. The demi-parure retains its original shaped green leather case with white satin and pale green velvet interior. The inside of the case is stamped in gold letters "Tiffany & Co /550 Broadway 552/ New York." The first iteration of Tiffany & Company was founded in New York City in 1837 and specialized in stationery and fancy goods. In the decades that followed, Tiffany & Co would become a favorite jewelry destination of the Gilded Age elite, boasting branches in London and Paris.

Coral was believed by classical civilizations to possess therapeutic and apotropaic powers, and it has been used as ornament since ancient times. It remained a staple of jewelry design in Victorian America. Coral is an organic gem, the skeleton of tiny marine animals called polyps. During the mid-nineteenth century, when this demi-parure was fabricated, coral was mainly harvested from the Mediterranean waters surrounding Naples. Coral is durable yet soft enough to be carved easily, and it was well-suited for the intricate, naturalistic floral jewelry made popular by the nineteenth-century Rococo revival.

Brooch, Tiffany & Co. (1837–present), Coral and gold, American

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