The Reference Behind Pharrell’s Tiffany & Co Spectacles

Aside from Nigo’s first collection at Kenzo, one of the biggest pieces of fashion news yesterday came via Pharrell’s subtle announcement of his ‘engagement’ with Tiffany & Co.

“I can’t give it all away now. I don’t want to go too much into detail, OK, because we’re here today to celebrate my brother Nigo.”

The glasses appear to reference a set of spectacles auctioned at Sotheby’s. The two pairs, coined the “Halo of Light” and “Gate of Paradise”, were thought to have been owned by the Asian Mughal powers, famed for their advancement of art and architecture.

Other than the ostentatious design, what makes them so unique is the switching of a traditional lens with precious emerald and diamond. However, the choice wasn't only ornamental. It thought that the use of the stones could enlighten the wearer spiritually - emerald would heal and defend against evil, while the diamond lens would provide enlightenment and insight. The former is traceable in history, such as when the Shah Jahan wept for so long after his wife's death his eyes needed healing with emeralds.

Originating in the 17th century, the diamond lenses were cut from a huge single diamond from southern India, while the emeralds originated from Colombia. They were then set in the diamond frames around 1890, based upon the popular ‘Open Claw’ European shape.

It’s not the only example of precious stones being used as lenses in history - both Roman emperor Nero and France’s Charles V were recording as wearing gemstone pairs. However, the pair are extraordinary in the craftsmanship needed to create a transparent, wearable design, as well as the luxury in cutting such a rare stone into a flat lens.

While Tiffany & Co haven’t quite gone to that excess in the lens, the custom pair were produced in gold, with two emeralds and 61 brilliant diamonds embedded in the frame. The exact details aren’t quite clear, but the “partnership” seems too centre on spectacles - Pharrell stated it will focus on “seeing things differently”.

"The quality and purity of the gemstones is extraordinary and stones of this size would no doubt have been the reserve of an emperor" - Sotheby’s.