Did Tiffany’s & Co. Really Design Its Choker Necklace After The Brass Female Slave Collar?
This past weekend, an image of a brass collar with a heart shaped lock from the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum in Philadelphia, made its rounds on Facebook. The photo’s caption by Charles Jenkins is what made it go viral: “My lil sis just sent me this pic. Crazy the things u never knew. Still want that Tiffany Bracelett ? Just saying.”
In the picture, a cut out of Tiffany & Co’s jewelry advertisement is placed in the center of the brass collar and the museum states that such brass collars were placed on female slaves who worked for slave masters’ mistresses. The museum also claimed that the founder of Tiffany & Co, Charles Lewis Tiffany, designed the company’s iconic choker necklace after the slave brass collar. Followers of Charles Jenkins began to drag the jewelry chain for its alleged inspiration and even shared that they will no longer support the brand.
Today, however, Tiffany & Co released a statement (pictured below) on social media, explaining that the Lest We Forget Slavery Museum’s “historic fact” is not the least bit accurate.
And while we may never know the real reason why Tiffany & Co. designed their choker necklaces similarly to that of slave collars, the history of chokers vary within different cultures. For example, Buzzfeed reports, chokers were used in the U.S. during the 1880s to identify prostitutes while some French women used the jewelry piece to remember those who were beheaded during the Revolution. Women in Ancient Egypt, on the other hand, used the statement pieces for spiritual protection and power.