Tiffany’s Most Expensive Piece of Jewelry Ever: The World’s Fair Necklace

Tiffany & Co. necklace

Very recently, Tiffany & Co. revealed a piece of jewelry called the World’s Fair Necklace. It is interesting for a couple of reasons. One, the World’s Fair Necklace is supposed to be the single most expensive piece of jewelry ever made by the company. Its exact value is unclear at this point in time. However, there is an estimate that it is worth between $20 and $30 million. Two, the exact value of the World’s Fair Necklace will be known at some point in time because it is available for sale to interested individuals. In this, it is very different from the so-called Tiffany Diamond, which is not available for the same purpose. Moving on, the World’s Fair Necklace is named thus because it was inspired by a predecessor made for the 1939 World’s Fair that was held in New York City’s Queens borough. That piece of jewelry featured a 200-carat aquamarine plus 429 diamonds, with the result that it was sold for $28,000. Adjusting for inflation, that would be approximately $557,000 in modern terms. For comparison, the modern World’s Fair Necklace boasts an 80-carat diamond as its centerpiece, though it is but one out of a total of 578 diamonds. Furthermore, it has been said that it will be usable as a ring as well as a necklace. Essentially, part of the package includes a lifetime service, which can be summed up as a Tiffany & Co. jeweler coming in to either remove the diamond from the necklace so that it can be mounted on a ring or vice versa. As for why Tiffany & Co. decided to make the World’s Fair Necklace, a couple of coincidental events brought it about. First, its archivists discovered a sketch for its predecessor, which showed it with a diamond rather than the aquamarine that was actually used. Second, Tiffany & Co. got the chance to work with an 80-carat diamond, which isn’t the kind of thing that happens everyday even for one of the most notable jewelry companies in the entire world. As such, when these two things happened within short succession of one another, the company made the decision to redo the World’s Fair Necklace, thus resulting in the piece of jewelry that exists in the present time.

The Gemstone

Unsurprisingly, the gemstone has a huge impact on the value of jewelry. However, this is something that can see significant variation from gemstone to gemstone. When it comes to diamonds, the lack of color has a positive correlation with value. In other words, less color makes for a more valuable diamond in most cases. Having said that, it is important to note that this rule doesn’t cover fancy color diamonds such as blue diamonds and pink diamonds, which are extremely rare and thus extremely valuable. Moving on, there are a number of other factors that influence the value of diamonds as well. For example, clarity can make a diamond more valuable. Essentially, it is common for diamonds to have either internal inclusions or external blemishes. People tend not to like these things, so their presence are a minus. Due to this, when a diamond is free from these imperfections, its value can soar. Similarly, it is important to note that diamonds and other gemstones don’t just pop out of the ground in a ready-to-use state. Instead, they have to be worked into their final form. As such, the cut of a diamond can have a huge effect on its light as well as other aspects of its appearance, thus enabling this to influence its value as well. On top of these, there is the matter of a diamond’s carat, which would be its weight. To get an idea of the size of the diamond used in the World’s Fair Necklace, a single carat is 0.2 grams, meaning approximately the same weight as a paperclip. Most of the diamonds that see use in fine jewelry are actually 1 carat or less. Something that serves to emphasize the sheer size of the aforementioned diamond. Naturally, bigger diamonds are more valuable.

The Craftsmanship

Speaking of which, it stands to reason that craftsmanship plays a huge role in the value of jewelry. After all, good craftsmanship makes for better-looking pieces, particularly when it is combined with a good sense of aesthetics that is in tune with the prevailing attitudes of the times. In contrast, poor craftsmanship can ruin even the best materials, which is as true for jewelry as it is for everything else.

The Story

In some cases, a piece of jewelry has a story that can make it more desirable in the eyes of interested individuals. History is a common way for jewelry to pick up such stories. For example, the pieces of jewelry that belong to famous historical figures tend to become more valuable because of that association. Consider the difference between a piece of jewelry that once belonged to say, the Sun King of France versus a piece of jewelry that once belonged to a well-off but not particularly notable French nobleman whose name is remembered by no one outside of a very small number of historians who specialize in that particular region in that particular time period. Naturally, if a piece of jewelry was involved in well-known historical incidents, that can give it even more prestige. To name an example, there is continuing interest in the fate of Queen Marie Antoinette’s jewelry, so much so that people have been known to come up with all sorts of strange theories about their ultimate fate. Imagine if the necklace at the center of the Affair of the Diamond Necklace had managed to survive into the present time, seeing as how it played a huge role in the destruction of said individual’s reputation, the kicking off of the French Revolution, and the fundamental ways in which said event transformed the world. Of course, it is also possible for stories to be created for jewelry. There are pieces that are known to have had interesting histories fabricated for them. However, it is perfectly possible for stories to attached through more honest methods as well, as shown by how the discovery of the original sketch plus the rare 80-carat diamond resulted in the making of the World’s Fair Necklace.

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