Tiffany takes over the historic Los Angeles home of magnate William Randolph Hearst to showcase (and sell) its most exclusive gems

The jewelry house presents ‘Blue Book’, the catalogue of its most luxurious custom-made pieces with price tags in the multi-millions, at the Beverly Hills mansion that inspired ‘Citizen Kane’, featuring a dinner with Reese Witherspoon, Anya Taylor-Joy and Emily Blunt

Anya Taylor-Joy en la presentación del libro Blue Book 2024: Tiffany Céleste
Detail of the jewelry worn by actress Anya Taylor-Joy at the presentation of 'Blue Book 2024: Tiffany Céleste' on April 25, 2024 at the Beverly Estate (Los Angeles).Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.)
María Porcel

At the beginning, Beverly Hills was countryside. Well, maybe not from the very beginning: 100 years ago, Los Angeles’s most exclusive and famous neighborhood was the site of a hotel that shared its name and little else. But then, the ever-savvy media magnate William Randolph Hearst (who inspired Orson Welles’s film Citizen Kane) and his partner, actress Marion Davis, saw an opportunity in those desert hills, located within spitting distance of Hollywood. They bought more than seven acres, on which they built a home that was first known as the Hearst Estate and today, as the Beverly Estate. The magnificent mansion was designed by architect Gordon Kaufmann in the Spanish style (a favorite in this area), with patios, tiled fountains, stone balustrades and a dining room ceiling painted by John Smeraldi, who also did work on New York’s Grand Central Station.

Today, the hidden gem is closed to the public, but it has hosted John and Jackie Kennedy — at the time, young and practically unknown — on their 1953 honeymoon, Sammy Davis Jr. singing to his guests, and Adele for her 31st birthday celebration. Its gardens and balconies have made appearances in The Bodyguard, The Godfather and Beyoncé music videos. And on Thursday, April 25, the building welcomed Reese Witherspoon, Anya Taylor-Joy, Diego Boneta and Suki Waterhouse. Their presence heralded a generational change that is keeping the mansion fresh, part of a three-week stint during which the building became the Tiffany brand’s fort.

Actress Reese Witherspoon and her daughter, Ava Phillippe, in the launch party for 'Blue Book 2024: Tiffany Céleste' at the Beverly Estate in Los Angeles.
Actress Reese Witherspoon and her daughter, Ava Phillippe, in the launch party for 'Blue Book 2024: Tiffany Céleste' at the Beverly Estate in Los Angeles.Charley Gallay (Getty Images for Tiffany & Co.)

The well-known jewelry house has painted and hung its name (in Tiffany blue, of course) on the walls of the Beverly Estate, whose ground floor is the current site of dozens of its gems, some of the world’s most luxurious and exclusive designs, which Tiffany has been in the business of creating year after year since the mid-19th century. These particular specimens are among the most unique, those of Tiffany’s Blue Book, as the company calls its annual catalogue, the first to be delivered directly to customers’ homes in 1845 and famed for its impressive, custom-made jewelry. Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Vanderbilt and Kate Winslet have bought its offerings in that past. At the festive Thursday night dinner in question, Emily Blunt, Olivia Wilde, Usher, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Gal Gadot displayed pieces on their necks, hands and lapels in celebration of the launch of what the brand considers its most precious annual treasure. Alexandre Arnault, the executive vice president of the company — which was purchased in October 2020 by the LVMH conglomerate, run by Alexandre’s father, the all-powerful Bernard Arnault — said grace before his guests, affirming that it is his intention to “transform the brand into something more elevated than it has ever been,” halfway joking that everyone had to return their jewels upon exiting the event. Even him. He validated his own remarks when, before getting into his car at the end of the night, he turned in his brooch and watch.

With the event, which was open to buyers and the press — EL PAÍS was the only Spanish publication on the invite list — the New York luxury firm sought to demonstrate that its power extends nationwide, and certainly, to the West Coast. Beginning Thursday morning, dozens of guests came by to view the pieces. Some of the jewels were historic, from collections that were presented more than a half-century ago, and created by jeweler Jean Schlumberger. Much of the latest collection was born from the imagination of Nathalie Verdeille, Tiffany’s artistic director of jewelry and high jewelry, thanks to the precious stones sought out by Victoria Reynolds, the brand’s chief gemologist. To “oohs” and “aahs,” Reynolds showed off the jewelry, arranged on illuminated shelves, breezily trying on rings, necklaces and bracelets. “A piece is not finished until it’s worn,” she said, smiling at the respect shown by the audience towards jewelry worth thousands, even millions, of dollars. When questioned, the brand declined to name their exact prices — well over nine digits, it sufficed to say.

Three of the pieces from the Tiffany capsule collection 'Rainbow Bird on a Rock', which reinterprets brooches designed by Jean Schlumberger.
Three of the pieces from the Tiffany capsule collection 'Rainbow Bird on a Rock', which reinterprets brooches designed by Jean Schlumberger. T|Tiffany & Co. Studio

Precious stones are the stars of this collection. It features necklaces studded with emeralds from Colombia and aquamarines from Brazil and others that display nearly perfect sapphires, which come apart to form brooches and tiaras fit “for queens and princesses,” says Reynolds. Particular standouts were brooches featuring large gemstones topped with birds made from diamonds and other jewels. The most elaborate pieces take up to 1,700 hours to create.

The collection was in the making for two years: Reynolds oversaw the search for the gems, which she then showed to Verdeille, who used them to create mock-ups that required up to six months to design and up to a year to bring to life. According to the brand, and despite the fact that the Middle East would appear to be its primary market (it no longer has a presence in Russia), its U.S. clients continue to be key. So too, is the United States in the development in the brand’s watches, which have gained market strength in recent years. Designed by the jewelry house with Swiss clockwork, they represent another step into the world of jewelers, and also, into men’s products. Jessica Jones, vice president of the division, tells this publication that they are “a sales hit in the United States, Japan and the Asia-Pacific: Singapore, Thailand…” Their prices can reach $500,000.

Early in the day Thursday, journalists were the first to traverse the rooms at the Hearst mansion, observing and even touching the jewelry under the attentive gave of the discreet, but numerous, security personnel. That same evening, celebrities would wear the pieces during the dinner party. Between these two groups, well-dressed men and women passed through a few at a time in small, low-profile groups. Tiffany staff accompanied them, carrying boxes bound in dark blue leather, from the rooms to small tents installed in what was once Mr. Hearst’s garden. These, of course, were the clients. The tents had been designed as luxury fitting rooms where, beneath the California sun, the most select pieces could be shown in privacy. On Friday, the jewelry house organized a dinner for some of its most-appreciated clients at Beverly Estate. The showcase will remain open, in an exclusive sort of way, for a few more weeks, during which buyers from all over the world will continue to arrive to get their hands on some of the most coveted jewelry on earth. Though on Thursday the stars took off the diamonds and other gems upon exiting, on Friday, more than one lesser-known name went home with a bag in that classic blue.

From left to right, actors Emily Blunt, Diego Boneta and Gal Gadot, at the Tiffany event in Los Angeles on April 25, 2024.
From left to right, actors Emily Blunt, Diego Boneta and Gal Gadot, at the Tiffany event in Los Angeles on April 25, 2024.STEFANIE KEENAN (fotos cedidas)

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