Today’s subject for Colour Story is Tiffany Blue.

The robin’s-egg blue known around the world as Tiffany Blue is an iconic attribute of the fashion brand, Tiffany & Co. Representatives of the luxury house admit that even they don’t know the true reasons why its founder, Charles Lewis Tiffany, chose this colour. Many theorize that it was due to the popularity of turquoise gemstones in 19th-century jewellery, when turquoise brooches were a favourite gift to wedding attendants – a social practice which no doubt increased its popularity. In those days, turquoise gemstones were considered exotic and novel.

Tiffany’s first use of this colour was on the cover of its Blue Book, an annual printed collection of the company’s jewellery and other high-end goods. The colour was gradually applied to its packaging and advertising, and over the years established itself as a marker of luxury, sophistication and status due to its strong association with the brand.

Consumers coveted the blue boxes so much that many offered to buy the empty boxes from Charles Tiffany. He would adamantly refuse to do so, and went on record with reporters to declare that Tiffany boxes are strictly reserved for those who purchased Tiffany jewelry. This policy is still in effect today. In some cases, such as during the filming of Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the flagship New York boutique, starring Audrey Hepburn, armed guards were not only hired to protect the jewelry but also the blue boxes.

The brand’s iconic shade was finally registered as a trademarked colour in 1998 (153 years after its first use). In 2001, Pantone standardized a proprietary custom colour, called 1837 Blue, which pays homage to the luxury house’s founding year. This colour is reserved only for use by Tiffany’s marketing department and is not available to the public.

Yet even when a version of this colour is co-opted by other corporations, many consumers will still associate it with the one and only luxury fashion house. It just illustrates how Tiffany’s identity is instantly recognizable solely by its colour without any other brand elements – an enviable mindshare position among the world’s most influential brands.