Tiffany’s orchids from Paul Farnham

Updated: Jul 18

Everything is green now that spring is officially here! And that has me thinking about flowers! I recently came across this designer I hadn’t heard of before, this guy who made these absolutely exquisite and lifelike orchid pins. So of course I had to find out more! It turns out they were made by a jewelry designer named Paulding Farnham, who worked for Tiffany from 1875 (at the age of 16) to 1908. Take a look at the pin below. Gorgeous, right? That’s just one example!

Vintage orchid pin for Tiffany by Paulding Farnham
Vintage orchid pin for Tiffany by Paulding Farnham

Made with enamel, rubies, and diamonds, it sold for $228,000 in 2006. Wow!

Let’s learn more about this guy, shall we?

Orchids and other flowers

Pauldig Farnham, who we’ll just call Paul, came from a wealthy and well-connected family. Luckily, they recognized his artistic potential. An uncle who worked for Tiffany pulled some strings and before long, Paul was an apprentice there. He worked under Edward C. Moore, who was an amazing silversmith and all-around artist. Ed was influenced by nature, and passed that on to Paul.

Iris drawing Paulding Farnham
One of Paul’s drawings for an iris brooch

Paul learned how to draw jewelry designs, and focused on flowers – chrysanthemum, roses, hydrangeas, irises, orchids, and dandelions.

The World’s Fair in Paris

After almost 10 years studying as an apprentice, Paul was offered a paid position at Tiffany’s when he was 26 years old. He got $55/week to be Ed’s assistant. He accepted, and got busy prepping for the upcoming World’s Fair.

Flower brooches created by Paul Farnham
Flower brooches created by Paul Farnham

World’s Fairs don’t really seem to attract as much attention anymore, even