How Tiffany & Co. Transformed Tiffany T1 Into an Icon

by Natasha Wolff | June 25, 2020 2:30 pm

A hundred years ago, Tiffany & Co.[1] was draping its clientele in swingy sautoirs, diamond bandeau tiaras, dinner rings and dainty wristwatches. One has only to watch The Great Gatsby directed by Baz Luhrmann for a flavor of the glamorous Art Deco aesthetic that the house was embracing in the 1920s (Tiffany provided all of the jewels for the 2013 film).

Today, a century later, Tiffany is less concerned with homages to its gilded heritage and focused entirely on the here and now. Made in 18-karat rose gold, its latest collection, Tiffany T1, is defined by clean lines and sharp angles combined with fluid, feminine proportions.

The Tiffany T1 high jewelry choker features 240 hand-set diamonds—14 carats in all

“The goal was to evolve the T motif into a new, bold symbol that felt very modern,” says Tiffany & Co.[2] chief artistic officer Reed Krakoff. “It’s a reimagining of our iconic motif as one continuous design, an unbroken circle featuring a beveled edge, angular surface and a multifaceted finish.”

Tiffany archivists date the original T motif to the 1980s, when the letter was alternately sans serif or Greco-Roman in feel, with tips that flared down and out like an umbrella. In 2014, the inaugural Tiffany T collection used a slender, block-letter design vocabulary.

Krakoff’s Tiffany T1 jewels are far less literal, and encircle the wrist, finger or neck in a sensual way—there’s something sinuous about these pieces, but also substantial and robust, evoking strength and self-empowerment. “When we were creating the Tiffany T1 collection, we realized it had to live up to and be worthy of the Tiffany name—of being the best, something that people think of when they think of the ultimate way to celebrate themselves,” says Krakoff.

Chief artistic officer Reed Krakoff

As such, a distinctive feature of the collection is that five of the nine initial designs are set with radiant Tiffany diamonds, including an effortlessly elegant choker worn by Charlize Theron at this year’s BAFTA awards. Rising star actress Florence Pugh, of Little Women, was also photographed wearing diamond Tiffany T1 bracelets and rings at British Vogue and Tiffany & Co’s BAFTA afterparty. “It was important for me to have Tiffany diamonds incorporated as much as possible,” says Krakoff. “For me, Tiffany T1 shouldn’t be saved for special occasions—the pieces can be worn every day as a celebration of yourself.” Set by hand in a honeycomb pattern to maximize scintillation, the diamonds effectively bring the pieces to life with “incredible scale, texture and dimension” especially in the case of the high jewelry (select, one-of-a-kind designs that take hours of work to complete and feature the rarest and most remarkable of gems).  “We included high jewelry designs as part of the Tiffany T1 collection to express the idea that luxury should be effortless and can be worn even very casually. Even things that are very precious can be worn every day with an offhand attitude and a sense of irreverence.” 

And at Tiffany[3], where the brand has always looked to redefine luxury in the modern age, it’s perhaps this air of elegant insouciance that feels vaguely reminiscent of the pervading trends of the 1920s. That was an era that took modern women of privilege out of the drawing room and into the nightclubs or the streets to demand freedom from the delicate-flower[4] lifestyles imposed on them. They bobbed their hair and bared their shoulders, raised their voices, kicked up their heels and otherwise defied convention. Meanwhile, themes of female empowerment and gender equality are as topical today as they were in 1920, when women earned the right to vote in the U.S. In this way, Tiffany T1 feels particularly relevant to the current cultural mood. “Today, so many women are at the forefront of change and are powerful voices in their communities,” says Krakoff. “We wanted to design something that really felt bold, strong and inspired by their strength.”

A pre-production sketch of a Tiffany T1 bracelet

This summer, Tiffany T1 will be extended to include 18-karat white and yellow gold designs. Collectors can also anticipate the addition of bracelets, rings[5], earrings and pendants set with baguette diamonds in the fall. Visitors to New York City will have a chance to experience Tiffany T1 at the brand’s temporary flagship while the iconic Fifth Avenue[6] landmark continues to undergo a top-down renovation. “We have created something truly unique and visually dynamic with this temporary space,” says Krakoff. “Each floor offers a unique visual concept that complements its contents and embraces the experimental nature of the space with whimsical nods to its impermanence.” Experimental, dynamic, whimsical and nested in a vision of luxury that’s effortless and
irreverent…welcome to the Tiffany of the future.

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