Tiffany: My Updated Bucket List
My international travel plans for 2020 will include visits to all the Tiffany shops on the planet. This is going to be an interesting journey, because as of 2018, there were 321 stores worldwide with 93 in the United States and 228 in the rest of the world, including the UK, France, Spain, Ireland, Australia, Colombia, Brazil, Malaysia, Costa Rica, China, and Japan.
In 2018, the net sales for Tiffany & Co. amounted to US$4.44 billion, up from US$4.17 billion in 2017. Best known for its jewelry, Tiffany is also a trend setter in fragrances, tableware, accessories ,and other luxury goods.
Tiffany was recently acquired by French luxury group LVMH for US$16.2 billion, joining other celebrated brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, and Bulgari. Tiffany is moving toward a younger demographic with a focus on digital shoppers, and the deep pockets of LVMH are likely to ease this new marketing trek. As a result of the acquisition, Tiffany shares increased over 6 percent in New York trading and LVMH increased by 2 percent in Paris.
LVH is directed by billionaire Bernard Arnault who finds that the Tiffany acquisition will improve its position in high-end jewelry, and the US market will make the company more competitive with Gucci-owner Kering Group and Cartier-owner Richemont SA. China is also part of the Tiffany future, with plans to increase the Tiffany footprint in this part of the Asian world.
Updated Bucket List
My decision to plan a Tiffany-based itinerary has not been an easy decision. I report on many beautiful treasures, from furniture and fixtures, to jewelry and fashion, from hotels to BnBs throughout the US and international destinations; however, shopping is usually among the top 5 reasons people travel, so setting Tiffany & Co at the top of my to-do list seemed very practical.
At a recent Tiffany champagne holiday party where guests were encouraged to meander through the aisles on two floors, take time to gaze fondly at the many beautiful “things” locked up behind perfectly clear glass counters, and sales reps eager to share stories about everything from dog collars to motorcycles – I found that every object at Tiffany had a history and as a good student I am eager to learn. As I gently touched the Tiffany Robin Egg Blue motorcycle, I decided that if I cannot live at Tiffany’s I can at least visit every store. Life at Tiffany & Co is all about “beauty.”
Birth of Tiffany
The road to Tiffany fame and fortune started in 1837 by 25-year old entrepreneur Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young. Thanks to the artistic and marketing genius of Louis Comfort Tiffany and a US$1,000 advance from Tiffany’s father, the company was launched as a “stationary and fancy goods emporium” operating as Tiffany, Young and Ellis.
As a savvy entrepreneur, Tiffany can be credited with following in the footsteps of Palmer’s of London Bridge (1750), establishing the idea of fixed prices and marking the cost directly on the merchandise to forestall haggling. As a hard-nosed business executive, he did not extend credit to anyone.
In 1845, Tiffany moved into mail order catalogs, (establishing ownership of the Robin Egg Blue color, PMS – Pantone Matching System No. 1837), and the book continues to be published annually. The first NY store (1870) was located at 15 Union Square West. It was designed by John Kellum at a cost of US$500,000 and described as a “palace of jewels” (NY Times). The company earned its place in history by supplying the Union Army with swords, flags, and surgical implements. In the mid-19th century, Tiffany was the first US firm to win an award for excellence in silverware at the Exposition Universelle in Paris and a gold medal for jewelry (1878).
Tiffany was the first American company to use the British silver standard (92 percent pure) and the Tiffany silver studio was the first American school of design that was guided by Edward C. Moore, a celebrated silversmith. By mid-19th century, the company had become America’s premier silversmith and purveyor of jewels and timepieces. By the beginning of the 20th century, Tiffany had more than 1,000 employees and branches in London, Paris, and Geneva. The New York flagship store on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, opened in 1940, and the store has been the location for films including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, starring Audrey Hepburn, and Sweet Home Alabama, starring Reese Witherspoon.
President Lincoln purchased a seed pearl suite for his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, in 1861, and a young Franklin Roosevelt purchased a Tiffany engagement ring in 1904. In 1956, the noted designer, Jean Schlumberger, joined Tiffany, and he was the first designer permitted to sign his work. In 1958, he was the first jewelry designer to win the Fashion Critic’s Coty Award. He remained at Tiffany & Co until he retired in the 1970s.
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In 1956, Andy Warhol collaborated with the company to create Tiffany Christmas cards and the cards were published through 1962. Lady Bird Johnson (1968), the First Lady of the US (at the time) commissioned Tiffany to design a White House china-service featuring 90 flowers.
The highest-profiled members of American society have been Tiffany followers, including the Vanderbilts, Astors, Whitneys and Havemeyers – all wore Tiffany diamonds and commissioned the company to produce gold and silver services. Tiffany jewels were worn by Jacquelin Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Diana Vreeland.
Tiffany & Co. does not appear at the top of the corporate sustainable list although it has been at the front lines with its efforts to rid the jewelry supply chain of abuses, including traceability of raw materials, participating in human rights advocacy efforts and supporting tighter industry-wide standards.
Anisa Kamodoli Costa is Chair and President of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation and Chief Sustainability Officer and has led efforts to improve transparency, enforcing standards for sourcing precious metals.
Tiffany for 2020
In good times and bad, Tiffany has recognized the importance of maintaining its image of luxury, high style, and excellence. As of November 26, 2019, the stock traded above the volatile price range of US$122.56 to US$129.72 in the past one-month time frame. Zack rated the company #3 (Hold). I do not know anyone who does not want to “hold” a Robin Egg Blue Tiffany box!
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© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.