The medieval technique of stained glass was overdue for modernization when, in 1893, Louis Comfort Tiffany introduced favrile, the color-dense opalescent glass that helped establish his lamps and windows as icons of American decorative arts. In 1902, Tiffany became the art director of Tiffany & Co., the jewelry shop his father had co-founded over six decades earlier. Now, one of his most famous light fixtures, the Wisteria lamp — designed by Clara Driscoll, who was the head of his glass-cutting studio — has inspired a necklace more than two years in the making. A droopy and lustrous umbrella of pale purple blooms, it combines the painterly tones of favrile with the naturalism of Art Nouveau.
Debuting this fall, the Wisteria necklace, part of Tiffany & Co.’s new flora-rich Blue Book: Botanica collection, plunges down the wearer’s décolletage like a single spray of the flowering vine, yoked by a ribbon of channel-set baguette diamonds and sapphires. The work of capturing the plant’s volume and subtle coloration was carried out by a team of over 20 specialists, who used detailed models 3-D printed in wax to help them anticipate any issues — crucial, given that the piece’s more than 250 stones are of many different shapes and sizes and cut to fit made-to-measure platinum settings.
To represent the color of each petal, the brand’s chief gemologist, Victoria Wirth Reynolds, sourced 36 unenhanced chalcedonies, which naturally form in a range of hues. Mimicking the way wisteria fades, the semiprecious stones shade from milky white to midsummer periwinkle and culminate in deep blue sapphires. “It’s painting with gemstones,” says Reynolds. The chalcedonies — along with pear-shaped white diamonds, reminiscent of dewdrops — are set in individual, interconnected baskets to mirror a real raceme, which gives the piece its fluidity and wearability. “Hopefully, it’s passed down through generations,” says Reynolds. “As beautiful as it is on the bench, when it’s worn, it becomes magic.”
Photo assistant: Kay Thebez