An orchid brooch, in platinum and 18-karat yellow gold with a three-carat diamond set in diamonds, can also be worn as a pendant.
Among the highest rungs of Victorian-era society, few possessions could surpass orchids as status symbols. Collectors prized their rarity (propagation wasn’t yet possible) as much as their exotic charm. Some took extreme measures in their acquisition, dispatching flower hunters to the ends of the earth in search of specimens. The phenomenon took on a fittingly frenzied name: orchidelirium.
Tiffany & Co. felt the draw of the flowers too. For the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle, the company’s visionary designer, Paulding Farnham, created an acclaimed series of enameled, jeweled orchid brooches so realistic, they helped Tiffany earn a gold medal for jewelry, one of six it was awarded that year.
The orchid has reemerged in Botanica, the latest edition of the brand’s celebrated Blue Book collection. And while the shapes are direct descendants of Farnham’s celebrated works from more than a century ago, the settings are something else entirely. One brooch features petals streaked with 18-karat yellow gold against a ground of mixed-cut diamonds; a pear-shaped, three-carat diamond is nestled in the center.
Like many of the jewels from Botanica, the brooch transforms, allowing for wear as a pendant too. It’s a sensible-minded twist for a collection built on the allure of delirious beauty.
This story originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE