The new design director of Tiffany & Co., the first female to occupy the position, introduces her new jewelry collection.
When Francesca Amfitheatrof created her first piece of jewelry, she was 15 years old. The new design director of Tiffany & Co. remembers her motivation. “One day, my teacher brought a jeweler to speak to our class and I was completely fascinated. Now, I’m a trained jewelry and silversmith,” says the brand’s first female design director, who was appointed in September of 2013.
Amfitheatrof is only the eighth design director of Tiffany & Co. since its beginnings and is responsible for interpreting the company’s 177 year legacy.
Her first collection for Tiffany, Tiffany T, debuted this year and is particularly contemporary. “I wanted to create a symbol for modern life,” says Amfitheatrof. The “T” pays homage to the Tiffany name, but the designer was also inspired by the architecture of New York, the city where Charles Lewis Tiffany established his company in 1837. “Tiffany T is sculptural and bold and very closely linked to the architecture of the city. It has a verticality and angularity that I associate with the energy and intensity of New York,” she says.
And while the inspiration comes from New York, Amfitheatrof dedicated the design to the world’s greatest cities and the global travelers who gravitate to art and culture. “I grew up all over the world and have immersed myself in music, art, film and theater along the way. I lived in Italy for a time when I was growing up and beauty and art surround you all the time there. And in New York, people have such great energy and curate their looks in a really interesting way.”
She explains her view on jewelry, saying that it is a common thread that runs through generations and cultures “from the beginning of time. It’s a way of expressing your personality, sometimes telegraphing your social status and, ultimately, making your mark in a tangible, beautiful way.”
No stranger to creating jewelry collections for esteemed brands, she’s designed for Chanel, Fendi and Alice Temperley, plus jewelry and silverware for Asprey & Garrard, and a men’s collection for Kauffman Stanley in Switzerland.
Amfitheatrof is drawn to metal because of its ability to be malleable and changeable. She also proclaims her obsession with form and function. For the designer, her creations begin “with a dream — something I see in my head that won’t fade until I get it down on paper.” She creates sketches, which she says gives the design process a human element. “I enjoy the whole process — the journey of taking a vivid idea and doing all the practical and technical thinking that makes a piece possible to produce beautifully. There is also great satisfaction in distilling and refining a design until just exactly what it needs to be; nothing more, nothing less.”
These influences on the Tiffany T collection create a flurry of forward motion as rhythmic and effortless on paper as it is in precious metal. Rose, yellow and white 18-karat gold, and sterling silver give Tiffany T its architectural strength. The collection features wide cuffs, minimal bracelets, multiple chains of varied lengths and elegant pendants. Rings and earrings complete the rich mix of options. Many of the pieces are embellished with diamonds and gemstones.
“For those who want to wear precious stones in a really modern way, there are a number of diamond pieces that are inspired by sketches from the 1920s that I found in the Tiffany archives,” she says.
She does have a favorite Tiffany T piece. When asked, she selects the square cuff in 18-karat gold. “It’s not the largest piece in the collection, but it has great presence on its own while also somehow working in well with any other piece in the collection for a more textured, layered look.”
As design director, Amfitheatrof’s 20 years of experience in the worlds of art and jewelry design, fragrance, furniture, and interiors will, no doubt, be put to good use.
“Tiffany has always been a company of great innovators, great dreamers who are constantly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with design. This frame of mind links directly back to the company’s founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, who was an entrepreneur long before anyone even knew what the term meant. . . This (collection) is just the beginning of what I hope to accomplish.”