Charles Lewis Tiffany - Encyclopedia

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CHARLES LEWIS TIFFANY (1812-1002), American jeweler, was born at Killingly, Connecticut, on the 15th of February 1812. At fifteen he became a clerk in his father's store, but removed to New York City in 1837, and with John B. Young opened a fancy goods store. In 1847 the firm began to manufacture gold jewelry, and in 1848, when the political unrest in Europe caused great depreciation in the price of precious stones, Tiffany invested heavily in diamonds, which were sold at a great profit a few years later. The firm became Tiffany, Young & Ellis in 1841 and was reorganized as Tiffany & Company (Mr Young and Mr Ellis retiring) in 1853. In 1851 the firm had established the sterling silver standard of. 925 fine, subsequently adopted by other jewelers; and in the same year had founded a branch house in Paris. In 1858 Tiffany bought the unused portion of the Atlantic telegraph cable which he made into cane handles or sold in sections. At the beginning of the Civil War, foreseeing that the jewelry business would suffer, he turned most of his capital to the manufacture of swords, medals and similar war material. In 1868 the company was incorporated, and branches were established at London and at Geneva. Tiffany made a speciality of importing historic gems, jewelry and art works, and in 1887 bought some of the crown jewels of France, paying for them about half a million dollars. He was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1878. He died in New York on the 18th of February 1902.

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