Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — When Tiffany and Paloma Picasso celebrate their 20th anniversary together Tuesday evening, the event will also mark a friendship that started long before Picasso joined Tiffany’s exclusive club of designers.
What Picasso described as her “very long and happy road” with Tiffany, actually dates back to her teenage years. She and Tiffany design director John Loring have known each other since Picasso was a bashful 16-year-old, when they were introduced at a party at the Venice home of art collector and philanthropist Peggy Guggenheim.
“Paloma was going to spend the summer in Venice and my mother said if she was ever bored, she should come over to our house,” Loring recalled. “Sure enough, there was a knock at the door the very next day and Paloma joined us for lunch.”
The two often spent time together in the years when Loring lived in Paris, where Picasso was studying jewelry design.
“I introduced her to Pierre Berge and she did some work for Yves Saint Laurent, as well as the greek firm Zolatas, but the most charming were the things she made for her friends,” said Loring. “She was obviously talented and has always had a very clear vision of herself.”
Loring, who joined Tiffany in 1979, just a year before the company enlisted Picasso as one of its designers, described Picasso’s style as “simple, aggressively stylish and joyous,” and a “perfect fit for us.”
“Tiffany has a long and great tradition of using gemstones, from the time of the Columbian Exhibition in 1893,” said Loring, referring to famed collection of gems Tiffany brought out at the the exhibition. “In Paloma we saw a designer with a perfect understanding of what to do with those stones. She is not intimidated [by them] at all. It’s as if Mother Nature made these things just for her. She seems an even better fit now than ever.”
For her part, Picasso said she was drawn to Tiffany because “I loved the store and few other great jewelers had designers who signed their own work.”
Despite being so identified with using colored stones, surprisingly enough, she had never worked with stones until joining Tiffany. Once the deal was done, Picasso remembered asking if she might use some stones in her work. Tiffany’s executives said they would locate some for her and one day summoned her to the company’s paneled boardroom.
“The entire boardroom table was covered with all kinds of stones,” said Picasso, her voice reflecting back to the amazement of that sight. “It was really so exciting, I wanted to grab everything.”
Picasso’s fascination with stones such as Mexican fire opal, rubellite and tanzanite have been incorporated into her jewelry. She seems amazed that 20 years have passed.
“It’s an unusual situation, but also quite special for Tiffany to have designers,” she said. “We have a lot of freedom and the level of quality that they produce is so strong.”
She said her enthusiasm is as strong as ever, especially since a “return to glamour is brewing.”
“It’s very inspiring because that is my personality,” Picasso said. “In a way, I’m less dressed up these days. I don’t go to as many parties as I used to, but a sense of glamour should always be there. It can be simplified, but still be there.
“Right now I’m wearing one big ring and my wedding band, which is quite big as well. In my bag, I always have a pair of earrings — the reversible kind in yellow and white gold. That’s my everyday look now, whereas before I would have had on a big bracelet and necklace too.”

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