LINCOLN PARK, N.J. — Sapphire mining at the Yogo Gulch in Montana began in 1895 after a cigar box full of pale blue gems picked from a creek by a local rancher found its way to Tiffany & Co. in New York. There an appraiser pronounced them “the finest precious gemstones ever found in the United States.”
Gemstones found on North American soil – tourmalines from the state of Maine, North Carolina moonstones, Mississippi freshwater pearls and sapphires from Montana – were all favorites of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933), son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, who founded the jewelry firm of the same name. The younger Tiffany made his name with Tiffany Studios, which produced beautiful works in glass, but he also served as Tiffany & Co.’s first design director.
George Frederick Kunz, head of gemology at Tiffany & Co. at the time, supplied the raw materials and fueled a fascination for unusual and unconventional stones in contrast to the platinum, diamonds and natural pearls that had made white the dominant color of the Belle Époque style.
A good example of Tiffany & Co’s Arts and Crafts color palette appears for sale at Willow Auction House on Thursday, September 14. This 14K gold, moonstone and sapphire ring, similar in style to those made circa 1905, has an estimate of $3,000-$4,000. Bidding for this and other items in the 408-lot sale is available via LiveAuctioneers.