Upmarket jewellery firm Tiffany has taken over the entire Saatchi Gallery and filled it with jewels from their collection and displays from their archive.
Ranging from tiny engagement rings right up to their recently acquired 80-carat Empire Diamond, there’s a heck of a lot of bling on display in a cluster of rooms each individually themed and decorated.
While the jewels sparkle and delight, I’d have to say that the design of the exhibition is in places more paste than diamond in what they’ve tried to achieve. Entry into the first room is such a sudden switch from bright daylight to darkness that it can leave you disoriented for a moment and judging by the staff’s reaction by the door, I was not the first to wobble a bit on entering.
Here, a series of small vignettes have been created showing off the skills of the craftsmen working at Tiffany. And they are truly stunning to see, if you can see them that is. Each window box is small, the crowd is large and the queue to see them is slow. I will admit to eventually deciding to walk behind people and only peering at a handful that really caught my attention. The white text on the black background suits the dark room, but was also in a small-sized text that made it unnecessarily harder to read than it needed to be.
Fortunately, the rest of the exhibition is far better laid out. It’s still a bit cramped in places, but no worse than many other museum exhibitions.
A room is filled with drawings from their printed archive, and then step into a brightly lit room – sunshine at last – and here there’s a much larger range of jewels mostly items that were put on sale over the decades alongside Tiffany’s famous (amongst jewellery buyers) annual catalogues.
Now though, a room that’s a delight, devoted to engagement rings, and it’s a visual delight. Stepping into a softly lit fantasy land with just a handful of rings filling a vast space, it’s the complete opposite to the crammed tube train crush that opened the exhibition.
Unsurprisingly, they include a whole room given over to Breakfast, and a whole room is given over to the huge 128.54-carat Tiffany Diamond, which is never to be sold, and can only be loaned to the sort of people who walk down red carpets and will be photographed wearing it.
The accompanying catalogue comes with a very Tiffany’s appropriate price tag.
Baring the cramped disorientating entry gallery, the exhibition delivers what you expect – a lot of glamour and riches that are a rare delight to see in one place together for the public to admire.
That it’s free is also why tickets are going fast, and you’re going to struggle to visit at weekends now, so book a mid-week ticket if you want to see the collection.
The exhibition, Vision & Virtuosity by Tiffany is open until 19th August 2022.
I cannot express how frustrating I found this — they have gone for a very annoying way of booking tickets. Did they choose an option that is quick, obvious, sensible and user-friendly?
You don’t visit the Saatchi Gallery website. You don’t visit the Tiffany website. You don’t visit any of the many websites that are experts in selling tickets. No, you get your phone out and go to the Apple or Google app store and then you have to download the Tiffany software and install it on your phone and use that to book a ticket.
Assuming you own a smartphone that is. If not, then you’re not visiting.
The first thing I did after I left the exhibition was to remove the software because quite obviously, I will never need to use it again and don’t want it cluttering up my phone menu. Actually, I had to look up how to do that as I so rarely install unwanted software on my phone that I couldn’t remember how to remove it.
I say this not as a Luddite who hates modern things, especially not as I spent 15+ years working in mobile telecoms, but as someone who cares about making things easy and obvious to use so that there aren’t any pointless barriers to booking a ticket to visit an exhibition.
That someone thought the best way of providing tickets is to require people to install software they’ll use just once to book a ticket and then never need again is beyond comprehension.
It left a sour aftertaste from an otherwise generally impressive exhibition.