Tiffany Studios introduced the Aquamarine line of Favrile Glass around 1914, about two decades after Louis Comfort Tiffany began glass production under the direction of Arthur J. Nash at his private factory complex in Corona, Queens.
Though we think of the first few years of production in the 1890s as the most experimental, Tiffany continued to develop new techniques well into the 1920s, bringing in highly skilled craftsmen to achieve these innovations.
Arthur Saunders was one such glassblower. In 1913, Saunders was sent by Tiffany to Bermuda on a sketching trip where he was allegedly tasked with capturing sea life through the lens of a glass-bottomed boat. Upon his return to NYC, Saunders, Nash and Tiffany set about developing the Aquamarine line, in which glass flowers, fish and sea life are encased in solid transparent glass - often several inches thick - representing water.
Aquamarine glass was a technical achievement due to the complexity of production: the process required handling incredibly heavy pieces of glass (often weighing over 25 lbs) on the end of a long blowing rod, in addition to the stress of the annealing process which had to factor in the varied cooling rates of multiple elements used in each piece - not to mention the sheer volume of glass.
Though the artistry of these vases cannot be denied, few pieces of Aquamarine were produced owing to the cost and difficulty of manufacture (a period article notes that many pieces were lost during the annealing process). Surviving examples often bear the notation “exhibition piece,” indicating that Tiffany himself saw the line as highly successful and representative of the quality produced by his company. Records indicate that the Aquamarine vases were priced in the $250 range, surpassing some of the Tiffany Lamps available at the time.