Paulding Farnham for Tiffany

Paulding Farnham for Tiffany

Paulding Farnham for Tiffany


G. PAULDING FARNHAM. Arguably Tiffany and Company’s most eminent nineteenth-century jewelry designer.  In 1885, at the tender age of 26, G. Paulding Farnham joined Tiffany’s design department. Studying under Edward Moore, Farnham quickly distinguished himself as a skillful and innovative artist.  He was given the responsibility, with Moore, of designing the jewelry for Paris’s international exposition in 1889 and was “universally recognized as the genius” behind Tiffany’s success there when the firm won an unprecedented six gold medals. In particular, Farnham’s enamelled and bejeweled orchids, faithful in detail to actual specimens, were hailed as exceptional.  As Gustave Stickely, leader of the Arts and Crafts movement put it, "The copying of flowers in jewelry is, of course, is no new thing…but the orchids of Messrs. Tiffany are the first that we have seen, and it would be impossible to surpass them, whether for cleverness of imitation or for perfection of workmanship." French critics shared his view. They were, moreover, impressed by the wide variety of colorful designs, inspired by various sources: Native American pottery; Louis XIV, XV, and XVI fashions; Japan; East-Indian jewelry; and Eastern-European design.  In 1900, Farnham helped to repeat the triumph, as Tiffany won the Grand Prize for its jewelry at the Exhibition. The success was ascribed to the synergy between Farnham and gemologist George Frederick Kunz, who provided him with a fantastic array of colored stones including conch pearls, pink topaz, demantoid garnet, Mexican fire opals, Montana sapphires, and Arizonia turquoise. Despite Farnham’s success, he was dethroned as design director at Tiffany two years later in 1902: Louis Comfort Tiffany assumed the role when his father died. In 1908, Farnham resigned from Tiffany and Company due to creative disputes with LCT. He went West, leaving his family and settling in Mill Valley, California where he finished his career as a painter. 


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