Wade Family Tiffany Jewels on view NOW!
The Wade Family Tiffany Jewels, generous loans from Tiffany & Co. Archives and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History are on view now through December 31 in Gallery 221!
In Europe, social circles revolved around royal circles, and for Americans trying to infiltrate this milieu, elegant jewels in the eighteenth-century Louis Seize (XVI) style—with garlands of diamonds or gemstones, symmetrical placement and lace-like construction—were the height of fashionable taste. Jeptha Homer Wade II and wife, Ellen Garretson purchased two such necklaces from Tiffany & Co. around 1895.
Wade Necklace, c. 1900. Gold, platinum, diamonds; 36 x 8.5 cm. Tiffany & Co. Archives, A1999.49.01. ©Tiffany & Co. Archives
The diamond necklace features large, impressive stones that were made more readily available in the late 1800s by the opening of the vast diamond mines in South Africa. Tiffany’s designer contrasted pendants of the largest diamonds with delicate garlands of tiny stones to create an especially lavish array of brilliance around the neck. The lacy effect must have been especially favored by the Wades, who boasted one of the finest collections of medieval and Renaissance lace in the world, now the foundation of the CMA’s lace collection.
Necklace, 1885–95. Diamonds, pink tourmalines, platinum, yellow gold; c. 34.5 cm; pendant h. 4 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, 1991-20
Likewise, the pink tourmaline and diamond necklace must have appealed to Wade’s collecting prowess in gemstones and minerals, considered a gentlemanly pursuit of the highest caliber. These tourmalines were likely first collected as individual stones for Mr. Wade, then set by Tiffany for Mrs. Wade around 1895.
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