FrontRunners: Brooches in Bloom
More than a century after Tiffany & Co. designer Paulding Farnham earned the gold medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition for his 25 enamel orchid brooches, the jewelry house is reinterpreting the groundbreaking collection of exotic blooms.
Tiffany (800.526.0649, www.tiffany.com) embarked on the project after a chance encounter between a company executive and enamel artist David Freda at a New York antiques show nearly two years ago. Freda, who works from his garage in San Clemente, Calif., studied the complexity of form and color of various orchids for more than a year before crafting his first brooch.
To produce each piece, Freda drops a living orchid bloom in hot wax to create a form for the 22-karat gold brooch; then he applies as many as 30 layers of pigment, baking the enamel after each application. Freda finishes the flower by placing tiny diamonds that appear like dewdrops. So far, he has completed six one-of-a-kind brooches with prices ranging from $18,000 to $22,000.