This season, an illuminated larger-than-life figure of a blue bird perched on a fuchsia jewel at the tip of a crescent moon graces the façade of Tiffany & Co. at South Coast Plaza. The opulent and whimsical display is a faithful interpretation of the storied “Bird on a Rock” brooch by Jean Michel Schlumberger and is a testament to the timeless artistry of one of Tiffany’s most celebrated designers.
Deeply imaginative, Schlumberger’s magnificent creations are famous and enduring icons that reflect his ingenuity and the technical virtuosity of Tiffany’s craftsmanship.
THE RIBBON ROSETTE DIAMOND NECKLACE
The partnership between Tiffany & Co. and Schlumberger began in 1956, when he accepted an invitation from Walter Hoving, then chairman of Tiffany & Co., to join the company as vice president. The next year, the designer was tasked with setting the largest yellow diamond in the world at the time – the 128.54-carat Tiffany Yellow Diamond. The result was the legendary Ribbon Rosette diamond necklace, unveiled in 1961 and worn that year by Audrey Hepburn to promote “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Rarely seen, the Ribbon Rosette has since made an appearance as part of Lady Gaga’s ensemble at the Oscars in 2019 and on Beyonce for the jeweler’s About Love campaign in August.
THE SCHULMBERGER AESTHETIC
Throughout his career, Schlumberger showed a passion for flora and fauna, from fantastical birds and deep-water shells to exotic plants. A starfish became a star, a flower a sun, and a bird’s plumage an angel’s wing.
“I try to make everything look as if it were growing, uneven, organic,” he once said. “I want to capture the irregularity of the universe.”
I try to make everything look as if it were growing, uneven, organic. I want to capture the irregularity of the universe.
BIRD ON A ROCK
After Schlumberger encountered a yellow cockatoo in the 1960s, he was inspired to design the Bird on a Rock clip, one of his most iconic works that continues to be re-envisioned with some of the most prized colored gemstones in the world. The most spectacular of these was unveiled in 1995, when the aforementioned Tiffany Yellow Diamond was set in a Bird on a Rock clip especially for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ Jean Schlumberger retrospective in Paris.
More recently, Tiffany & Co. cleverly adapted the Bird on a Rock design for a pair of one-of-a-kind cufflinks worn specifically for the About Love campaign by Jay-Z, who also displayed the Apollo brooch on his tuxedo lapel.
Schlumberger’s jewelry is prized by collectors and sought after as symbols of romance and love. President John F. Kennedy gave First Lady Jackie Kennedy (Onassis) the Berry Clip and Croisillon bracelets while Richard Burton presented Elizabeth Taylor with the Dolphin Clip.
Today, Schlumberger’s legacy shines brilliantly outside and inside the Tiffany & Co. boutique at South Coast Plaza. The Cooper bracelet, Sixteen Stone diamond ring, intricate paillonné enamel bangles, bold-colored rings, and of course, his collection of fanciful, nature-inspired jewelry are as captivating as ever, awaiting more generations to appreciate and collect them.