Now Reading
Tiffany & Co’s Chief Gemmologist Victoria Reynolds on Tracing Stones

Tiffany & Co’s Chief Gemmologist Victoria Reynolds on Tracing Stones

As chief gemmologist at Tiffany & Co, Victoria Reynolds shoulders the great responsibility of acquiring the world’s most coveted gems in a responsible and traceable manner. She tells us how she does it.

On October 19, 2023, Tiffany announced it had acquired a rough fancy vivid yellow diamond, weighing more than 71 carats, from Canada’s Ekati Mine. It would mark the third time in less than a year that the house made public its acquisition of a loose stone, both in its rough and polished forms. In January 2023, Tiffany bought one of the last lots of rare pink diamonds from the now-closed Argyle Diamond Mine in Australia – and six months later the brand once again made headlines when a 10-carat Muzo emerald from the famed Colombian mine came into its possession. 

If Tiffany’s power of acquisition seems aggressive, it’s only to match its increased focus on high jewellery, according to its chief gemmologist Victoria Reynolds. Yet the brand’s relentless pursuit of the most exceptional gemstones is actually part of its legacy, and having an in-house chief gemmologist is very much part of its DNA. 

“Dr George Kunz was Tiffany’s first chief gemmologist, and the role dates back to 1880,” explains Reynolds. “Kunz was, of course, the person who acquired and cut the iconic yellow Tiffany Diamond, alongside our founder Charles Louis Tiffany.” To live up to that pedigree, Reynolds has the huge responsibility of continuing to procure the rarest and most extraordinary diamonds and gemstones – a role she took up in 2020 and has since done spectacularly.

Victoria Reynolds, chief gemmologist at Tiffany & Co
Victoria Reynolds, chief gemmologist at Tiffany & Co

Victoria Reynolds is also the first woman in that role in Tiffany’s 187-year history, a significant step for the brand as well as for her personally. “It’s an honour of a lifetime,” she says. “I grew up in New York and some of my earliest memories are going with my father to Tiffany & Co to buy my mother a Christmas present.” 

Jewellery proved to be a lifelong passion for Reynolds, who attended the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated with a degree in jewellery and metalsmithing. During her junior year in college, she worked as a summer intern at Tiffany, and upon graduating in 1987 joined the brand full-time in the custom design area. As she moved through the departments, from diamond grading to high jewellery, she was also working her way up. “Thirty-six years later,” Reynolds says knowingly, “I’ve never looked back and my passion for this extraordinary brand only grows stronger with every year I’m here.”

As chief gemmologist, she provides diamond and gemmological expertise, provenance and craftsmanship details to clients. She also helms the development of high jewellery, and leads Tiffany’s global growth strategy in that category. Answering pesky questions from press is also part of the job – cue my question: why is Tiffany acquiring rough stones as opposed to acquiring stones that are already cut and polished? 

“A rough gemstone allows you to dream!” is Reynold’s exuberant response. For more than a century, Tiffany has crafted some of the world’s most extraordinary gemstones and set them in remarkable creations. “It’s a legacy that began in 1877 with the 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond and continues to this day.”

The Tiffany Diamond is the most extraordinary of all, she says. “It’s one of the world’s largest and rarest fancy yellow diamonds,” says Reynolds, who adds that in her 36 years with the brand, it’s still the most beautiful diamond she’s ever encountered. It’s so precious that only four women in the world have had the privilege of wearing it. The jewel was first worn in 1957 by socialite Mary Whitehouse, and then most famously in 1961 by Audrey Hepburn, when it was incorporated in a Jean Schlumberger-designed Ribbon Rosette necklace, in publicity photographs for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Decades later, the Tiffany Diamond was re-set in celebration of Tiffany’s 175th anniversary in 2012, and worn by Lady Gaga in 2019 at the Oscars, where she won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. In 2021, Beyoncé was the most recent woman to wear the jewel, for a Tiffany campaign.

“The Tiffany Diamond is exceptional because it represents our dedication to bringing out the beauty of every diamond we cut, rather than prioritising carat weight for the sake of size alone,” says Reynolds. “The 287.42-carat rough stone was discovered in the Kimberley diamond mines in South Africa in 1877, and was acquired a year later by Charles Lewis Tiffany, who spent a year studying the rough diamond in Paris. It was there that Kunz supervised the artisan who polished it into the spectacular diamond is it today at just over 128 carats – slightly under half its original size.”

Today, the Tiffany Diamond is set in a Bird on a Rock high-jewellery piece
Today, the Tiffany Diamond is set in a Bird on a Rock high-jewellery piece

Today Reynolds is continuing this extraordinary legacy. “With an increased focus on high jewellery, we’ve accelerated our efforts on building our collection of legendary gemstones and made several notable acquisitions in the past few years,” she says.

Last January it acquired 35 Argyle pink diamonds in a range of colours, from fancy intense pink, fancy intense purplish pink, fancy vivid pink, fancy vivid purplish pink and deep pink, to the rarest of all – a fancy red diamond. The stones were unearthed during the final mining period at Argyle, and curated exclusively for Tiffany – an honour, from the brand’s perspective, as it reflected the trust Argyle had in the house to create the world’s most coveted creations. 

The Muzo Emerald, at more than 10 carats, was extracted from the historic Puerto Arturo shaft in December 2019 and acquired by Tiffany in July 2023. Exceptional for its large size, provenance, colour and clear quality – it has no fissures and is virtually inclusion-free – the stone made its debut alongside the launch of the Blue Book 2023: Out of the Blue collection last autumn.

Rare pink diamonds from the Argyle Mine
Rare pink diamonds from the Argyle Mine

And of course, there’s the 71-carat fancy vivid yellow diamond rough, acquired in October 2023, which was later cut into two emerald-shaped yellow diamonds of more than 15 and 20 carats each. With its vivid yellow hue and near-perfect octahedral shape, the stone was considered a miracle of nature.

See Also

The ability to source beautiful prized stones doesn’t only reinforce Tiffany’s position as the premier purveyor of the world’s most coveted stones, but it’s also an indicator of the brand’s role as a leader in provenance and the traceability of gemstones at a time when the world demands transparency. Today more than ever, fair trade and sustainability aren’t just important, but practices central to a brand’s identity and reputation.

The Diamond Craft Journey Initiative is Tiffany’s process to provide clients with information on provenance – or the region or countries of origin – for every newly sourced, individually registered diamond set in jewellery. Tiffany has strict protocols for sourcing the approximately 60 varieties of gems used in its jewellery and hopes to set industry standards and best practices that account for the realities of the supply chain while increasing transparency and traceability.

The Muzo Emerald
The Muzo Emerald

“In some countries where Tiffany has concerns about transparency and human rights, we’ve made the decision not to source certain prized stones,” says Reynolds. This has meant that at Tiffany you’ll never find a Burmese ruby. 

In 2015, Tiffany joined others in the luxury-jewellery industry and coloured gemstone mining sector to form the Coloured Gemstone Working Group, which has developed due diligence tools, training materials and other resources for the coloured gemstone sector. And today, the brand continues to foster positive impact on the communities in which it operates, including sustaining the environment and prioritising diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“We’re extremely proud that we’ve pioneered and led the way in Diamond Traceability, and the three recent acquisitions are an excellent example of that,” says Reynolds. Great things are always in the making at Tiffany, and soon – though she won’t say when we’ll see these remarkable stones appear in capsule collections and possibly Blue Book creations in the future.  

(Header image: Victoria Reynolds closely examines the Muzo Emerald)

Source: Prestige Online

Copyright © MetaMedia™ Capital Inc, All right reserved

Scroll To Top