Design Classic: Tiffany Blue Box

Blue, here is a box for you

Specifically, the colour is the sRGB coordinate (Red: 129, Green: 216, Blue: 208). Accurately, its Pantone code is 1837. Technically, it is a light medium robin egg blue. Globally, it is simply known as Tiffany Blue.

Inception began in 1845, with the publication of a mail order catalogue representing the ‘fancy goods’ of the house that Charles Lewis Tiffany built. The colour chosen for the cover was the one that would become synonymous with the company. Whether it was chosen because the catalogue was called the Tiffany Blue Book, or vice versa, or even to reflect the popularity of turquoise that was then in vogue, nobody will ever really know.

Every year since then, the Blue Book has been published annually and the colour even more intertwined with a company evolving from a fine goods store to a luxury jeweller. The colour is now a protected trademark owned by Tiffany & Co in some countries since 1998 and produced as a private custom colour by Pantone, hidden from public availability in its Pantone Matching System swatches. The Tiffany Blue Pantone designation – 1837 – also has a subtle significance; it is the year that Tiffany’s was founded.

The box came later. In 1886, Tiffany’s introduced its diamond engagement ring, packaged in a tiny blue box, wrapped in white ribbon. The spell was complete and the Tiffany Blue Box was born. Its appearance – from the shape to the white satin ribbon – is also trademarked. It has become an icon for opulence, and also desire; the boxes can only be acquired with a purchase at Tiffany’s, which means the item inside is from Tiffany’s. In 1906, the New York Sun said this: “(Charles Lewis 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.” The same rings through today, a hundred and eleven years later.

The anatomy of the box is simple – a box with a slightly larger overlapping cover manufactured in Carlstadt, New Jersey, USA by Pantone in the ‘most protected colour in branding’. The name ‘Tiffany & Co’ printed on the lid, in Baskerville Old Face font. Then a flourishing accent of a white satin ribbon wrapped into a bow, replaced with a red satin ribbon during the Christmas season. Simplicity itself, like the most memorable of statements.

Sign up for our Newsletters

Stay up to date with our latest series