Tiffany & Co. Archives: The Wade Necklace

Generous loan from the Tiffany & Co. Archives

The Wade Necklace by Tiffany & Co. is one of the great masterpieces of American jewelry design from the turn the last century. Composed of thousands of diamonds set in platinum, featuring 16 brilliant-cut solitaires, the Wade Necklace is a tour-de-force of the jeweler’s art and a hallmark of Tiffany & Co.’s reign as America’s premier purveyor of luxury at the turn of the last century. Cleveland Museum of Art founder Jeptha Homer Wade II commissioned this elaborate necklace for his wife Elizabeth Garretson Wade, possibly in anticipation of their visit in 1896 to Moscow following the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II and Alexandra. The delicate design of gentle neoclassical swags, which showcase the large heavy diamond pendants, was made possible by both the development of the acetylene torch, making it easier for the jeweler to work with platinum, and the discovery of large deposits of diamonds during this period. Wade was a celebrated collector of precious gems and loved gathering stones through his agents to be set for his wife. He later gave his collection of rare stones to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which has also lent a group of Wade jewels to accompany the Wade Necklace in celebration of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s centennial.

Wade Necklace, c. 1900
Tiffany & Co. (est. 1837, New York)
Gold, platinum, diamonds; 36 x 8.5 cm.
Tiffany & Co. Archives, A1999.49.01. © Tiffany & Co. Archives

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The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported in part by Cuyahoga County residents through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture and made possible in part by state tax dollars allocated by the Ohio Legislature to the Ohio Arts Council (OAC). The OAC is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically.

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