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Who is Charles Lewis Tiffany?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Charles Lewis Tiffany is the founder of Tiffany & Co., one of the most well known and prestigious sellers of quality jewelry, silverware and other products for the home. Born in Killingly, Connecticut 15 February 1812, Charles Lewis Tiffany worked as a clerk at the age of 15 in a store his father owned. He opened a stationery shop in New York City in 1937 with his friend, John Young, and the company kept growing into a widely successful business known for products of luxury and quality.

Charles Lewis Tiffany and John Young began adding silverware and jewelry to their line of stationery products. In 1948, their company began making their own jewelry and they opened a shop in Paris. By 1883, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John Young manufactured high quality silverware including official royal patterns for Queen Victoria. Soon, the company began selling stained glass Tiffany lamps that were designed by Charles Lewis Tiffany's son, Louis Comfort Tiffany. Louis Comfort Tiffany had started out painting landscapes, but then became a decorative artist creating stained glass windows, mosaics and lamps.

In 1851, Charles Lewis Tiffany set the standard of 925 sterling silver. As pure silver is too soft on its own, copper or other metal alloys must be added to allow silver to be formed into jewelry and other items. According to Charles Lewis Tiffany's quality standards still followed today, silver jewelry must be at least 92.5% pure silver, with the remaining 7.5% being a metal alloy. Tiffany also opened a shop in Paris in 1851.

By 1868, Charles Lewis Tiffany had opened a Tiffany's in London and one in Geneva. Tiffany had a large investment in diamonds and sold them for a large profit. After his purchase and then extremely profitable sale of some of France's crown jewels in 1887, Charles Lewis Tiffany was given the nickname "The King of Diamonds" by journalists.

Tiffany & Co. still remains a popular source of top quality luxury goods. The company still sells mostly jewelry, including engagement rings and other sterling silver and gold pieces. Charles Lewis Tiffany's company still sells many of the high-end stationery supplies it sold in the early days and also carries other products such as perfumes and clocks. In addition to silverware, Tiffany & Co. also sells fine china and crystal.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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