Gems Fit to a ‘T’

Tiffany & Co.’s design director on her early obsession with precious metals, the meaning behind the ‘T’ and the versatility of gold

tiffany_t_collection_courtesy_tiffany_and_co._1-3_WEBIn September 2013, Tiffany & Co. named Francesca Amfitheatrof as design director, making her the first female in company history to hold the position. In her new role, Amfitheatrof’s aims to bring a fresh, modern look to the gems that find their way into the iconic little blue box that every woman desires. A trained jeweler and silversmith, Amfitheatrof has previously designed collections for Chanel, Fendi, Marni and Temperley London. She shares her insights on jewelry trends for this shopping season and beyond with editor Claire Wigglesworth.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a career as a jewelry designer? I made my first piece when I was 15. One day at school, my teacher brought a jeweler in to speak to our class, and I was completely fascinated. I’m obsessed with form and function, and it seems that because metal is so malleable and changeable, you can do anything with it. Even now, when I’m on holiday, I’ll spend as much time visiting jewelry stores as I do visiting museums and galleries.

What was your inspiration behind Tiffany’s ‘T’ collection? “T” felt like a natural jumping-off point for my work here, a very exciting beginning. “T” pays homage to the Tiffany name, but it also has a verticality and angularity that I associate with the energy and intensity of New York. Tiffany’s T is sculptural and bold and very closely linked to the architecture of [New York]. There is a lot of New York in the Tiffany T, and by that I mean the relentless movement, optimism and creativity you find on the streets. New York is a place of courage and reinvention that constantly sparks creativity.

Who are you designing for? The Tiffany woman has a spring in her step. She makes her own rules, and she doesn’t conform. The Tiffany T is first and foremost modern, and makes no apologies for that. It’s for the cool girl-about-town who’s well informed and has a handle on what’s happening, what’s now. She’s clever and smart and is very certain of herself and her sensuality. What I love about the Tiffany T, though, is that it’s democratic. It’s an attitude, not an age.

What’s on your fall/winter shopping list? I like clothes with clean lines that aren’t fussy or overdone. I love to mix patterns and colors in an unexpected way. Jewelry is always on the list; it is a great way to put a signature on your outfit, of adding a strong dose of personality and making a statement about who you are and how you want to be perceived.

I love gold, because there’s such a wide color palette—from yellow to rose to white. You can do anything with gold. I love blending faceted stones with cabochon shapes. Currently, I’m really into the mix of diamonds and moonstones—a study in white with a real contrast in sensibilities. I love mixing white with gold and black with silver.