FINDING ONE’S SEA LEGS
Last year’s Tiffany & Co.’s Blue Book collection, The Art of the Sea, was the first by Francesca Amfitheatrof, who joined the brand as its design director in late 2013. The first female to helm the design department since the jeweller’s founding 179 years ago, Amfitheatrof has a cosmopolitan flair that was acquired from a nomadic childhood that took her across the world from Tokyo to Rome.
World traveller she may be, but there is one place that always calls Amfitheatrof’s name. “I literally spend all my summers in the water," she says, “I feel different when I’m by the sea. The most beautiful colours that you see in paintings, tapestries, textiles – you see them all under water." Which is why the 2015 Blue Book leaned heavily on the sea and marine life for inspiration.
Opals feature prominently in the collection, an apt choice due to their water-borne origins. “Their iridescence comes from water that gets trapped inside," explains Amfitheatrof. “Pressure and compression create fragmentations that give the flashes of colour. I love the idea that you have water changing these minerals.
“Because I designed first (as opposed to working designs around existing stones), many gems had to be sourced," she continues. Diamonds, sapphires and Tahitian pearls are expected in a high jewellery collection – “I’m a real diamond lover," admits Amfitheatrof – but the 2015 Blue Book also includes unusual stones and when they are exceptional enough, the design process was reversed.
“When it comes to very special stones, of course we designed around the stone instead," she reveals, adding: “Many of these stones are really so phenomenal you don’t need to do that much." An example would be an enormous 21.66-carat chrysocolla mounted on a ring. “To find a chrysocolla this size and this colour is really rare," says Amfitheatrof of the luminous green mineral. “You’ll never find one like this again."