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Donald Claflin


Donald Claflin (1935 – 1979) was born in Massachusetts and attended the Parson’s School of Design in New York. He worked as an illustrator and textile designer whose interests turned to jewelry when he first began to work with jewelry designer, David Webb, and before he joined Tiffany and Company in 1965.

Tiffany’s tasked Donald with designing its entire Tanzanite collection. At that time, tanzanite was a newly discovered purplish, blue stone from Tanzania. In 1970, he was given his most important commission when he designed a new Tiffany setting in which the center stone is set in the cross of two crossing bands of precious metals. He is best known for the whimsical figurative jewels he crafted in bright gemstones and brightly polished gold.

His favorite motifs were playful depictions of animals, fairy tale creatures, such as Humpty Dumpty and the basilisk; and characters from books including ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Stuart Little.’

Claflin’s other jewelry creations included those based on Asian acrobats, ancient Peruvian figures, and strawberries. Claflin’s designs were based on contrasting mixtures of materials and color.

In the book American Jewelry: Glamour & Tradition by Debra Healy and Penny Proddow, it states, “Claflin was responsible for many original combinations in jewelry: one of his bracelets incorporated woven Moroccan leather, gold and stones; he also brought ivory and exotic hardwoods back into fashion.”

After eleven years with Tiffany, in 1976, Donald joined the New York City branch of Bulgari. During his three years there, he crafted pieces designed to appeal to modern American women and the growing trend of every day jewelry. His most successful Bulgari creations were his hoop earrings, formed by an unbroken line of baguette diamonds.

Claflin’s untimely death occurred in 1979 when he was only 44.

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