The Tiffany Diamond Gets New Setting

Today, Tiffany & Co. unveiled its new setting for its famous yellow diamond. The new setting commemorates the 175th anniversary of the Tiffany Diamond, perhaps the most famous yellow diamond in the world.

Not only is the Tiffany Diamond unique in itself, it is also closely associated with one of the towering figures in gemology.

The diamond was discovered in the Kimberly diamond mines in South Africa in 1877.

In 1878, Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany & Co., purchased the 287.43 carat rough and sent it to Paris for cutting.

George Frederick Kunz, at the time chief gemologist for Tiffany & Co., was placed in charge of the stone’s cutting.  In 1878, Kunz had just joined Tiffany and was only 23 years old.

Kunz studied the stone for a year and was responsible for adding 24 facets to the accepted 58-facet brilliant cut, producing a cushion-shape brilliant with a carat weight of 128.54 carats. The cut is a major reason why the stone is regarded as one of the most beautiful diamonds in the world and it was a daring and risky decision for the young self-taught gemologist to make.

In addition to his work on the Tiffany diamond, Kunz is well-known for discovering a new gem variety of the mineral spodumene which was named “Kunzite” in his honor. And for those of us who love trivia, John F. Kennedy’s last gift to Jacqueline was a 47 carat Kunzite ring.

Kunz never completed college although he was awarded numerous honorary degrees, including a PhD from the University of Marburg which was withdrawn in 1920 because of his sympathy for the French and English allies against Germany during World War I.

Kunz wrote a number of books and articles. If you ever have the opportunity, pick up a copy of The Curious Lore of Precious Stones and The Book of the Pearl, both of which I believe are still in print and which are tremendous reference resources.

The Bird on a Rock SettingThe Tiffany diamond has been set four times, twice in designs by Jean Schlumberger, Tiffany’s famous designer.  The stone was set in Schlumberger’s “Ribbon Rosette” necklace which was used to promote the 1961 movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Later it was mounted in Schlumberger’s “Bird on a Rock” setting.

The new platinum setting includes 120 carats of white diamonds and took a year to craft.






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