#ELLEDeepDive: The Story Behind Tiffany & Co’s Iconic Blue Colour
Right before it became the archetypal ‘Tiffany Blue’
Movies from the west first introduced us to the iconic Tiffany box. Think Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson in Bride Wars, jumping around a room when they discover the box in Hudson’s husband’s wardrobe. The box is seemingly turquoise, adorned with a lustrous white satin ribbon bow. And honestly, we’re going to say it—you want it regardless of the fact if you’d get hitched or not. But what makes this iconic Tiffany & Co. box really iconic? How did a jewellery brand become the purveyor of colour as its solid trademark?
It all started back in 1837 when Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young opened their shop called ‘Tiffany & Young’ in Lower Manhattan, right across City Hall Park. The shop first began selling stationery and other high-end goods to its customers. Even before the founders of the brand solidified its name, Tiffany & Young began publishing a catalogue. First issued in 1845 and formally known as the ‘Catalogue of Useful and Fancy Article’, the blue colour on this book varied for the next century until 1966. Soon, the company settled on a colour that was the closest prototype of the Tiffany Blue.
But there are several theories surrounding the inception of this colour. Legend has it that Charles Lewis Tiffany chose the colour because of the popularity of turquoise in 19th-century jewellery. At that time, turquoise was regarded as a novel gemstone in America. On their wedding day, Victorian brides often gifted their attendees a turquoise brooch as a part of a tradition of sorts. Soon the colour started running parallel with connotations of modernity and glamour.
Others believe that Tiffany Young saw Eugenie de Montijo’s portrait (wife of Napolean III) and knew that the shade of blue in her gown would be wildly popular.
What matters is that the hue was a hit—it was used for everything from the Tiffany pavilion at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, covers of the first catalogues, shipping barrels and even tiny storage boxes.
And then, in 1998, the brand took it one step further. ‘Tiffany Blue’ became registered as a colour trademark, and Pantone (the global authority of colour communication) standardised the hue exclusively for Tiffany & Co. This proprietary colour was later dubbed as the ‘1837 Blue’, named after its founding year. And that is how the iconic Tiffany Blue found its place in the world.
Today the colour is recognised, admired and loved by patrons and others across the globe. It moves way beyond just a marketing norm. Tiffany Blue and the iconic blue box are now emblematic of love and commitment. Just one glance, and the association immediately transports you to a world of luxury.
But there’s more that lends this box an elite status. It is believed that the founder, Charles Tiffany Lewis, refused to sell the boxes alone, as it is (thus enhancing their value as a symbol of sorts). To this day, the only way to procure a Tiffany Blue box is by actually making a purchase. As The New York Sun reported in 1906, “Tiffany has one thing in stock that you cannot buy of him for as much money as you may offer; he will only give it to you. And that is one of his boxes.” That’s how it is seen as the most significant symbol of love today.
Photographs: Tiffany & Co. Archives, Instagram