Founded by Charles Tiffany in 1837, Tiffany & Co. came to prominence among diamond merchants at the second half of the 19th century during the political upheaval in France which culminated in the overthrow of King Louis Philippe. In 1887 at the sale of the French Crown Jewels, Tiffany & Co bought the diamond necklace of Empress Eugénie, considered to have been the finest single item to go on sale as well as several other pieces. In the end, Tiffany’s emerged as the largest buyer, with 24 of the total 69 lots.
Earlier in the 19th century came the discovery of diamonds in South Africa where Tiffany were active too, buying two large yellow diamonds which were among the first large stones to be cut in NYC. They were surpassed by the Tiffany Yellow though. In the rough the stone was a beautiful canary-yellow weighing 287.42 carats.
It is believed that the Tiffany Yellow was found in either 1877 or 1878. The date and location are equally vague due to the lack of accurate record-keeping. However, one clue to its location has been supplied by a writer who stated it was found in the mines of Compagnie Français de Diamant du Cap, whose very existence sparked off a momentous financial struggle within the diamond industry.
Mr. Gideon Reed bought the Tiffany Yellow for $18,000 on behalf of the firm, after which it was exported to the USA. It is important to distinquish between light yellow and yellowish diamonds and those of the rarer deep canary yellow. The Tiffany Yellow still remains one of the finest examples.