Tiffany & Co (US)


Selected Tiffany advertising

Tiffany & Co is the world's most celebrated jeweller, with an unrivalled reputation for sophisticated luxury. Already a well-established haunt for wealthy New Yorkers by the 1950s, the store was launched to a wider market by the book and especially the subsequent film, Breakfast At Tiffany's. But unlike some luxury brands, which have lost a little sparkle in recent years following their adoption by aspirational or newly wealthy buyers, Tiffany's remains resolutely upscale and as a result coasted almost unaffected through the economic downturn of the early 2000s. The recession of 2008/09 proved a little more challenging, but the company has bounced back comparatively well since 2010.

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Who are the competitors of Tiffany? See Clothes & Fashion Accessories for other companies 

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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 27th Feb 2014: Celebrated jeweller Tiffany & Co appointed Ogilvy & Mather to handle global creative following a review, with the account split between the New York and Paris offices. 

Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Dec 2013: Jeweller Tiffany & Co lost a long-running dispute with watchmaker Swatch over their failed joint venture to produce Tiffany-branded timepieces. The US company terminated what was originally intended to be a 20-year arrangement after just four years in 2011, prompting a lawsuit from Swatch. An arbitration court ruled that Swatch is owed $500m in damages and lost earnings.


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Background

Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: Tiffany has been a quintessentially American brand for almost 180 years. Charles Lewis Tiffany and John Young established a fancy goods emporium in New York in 1837. Initially Tiffany & Young specialized in costume jewellery and stationery. Breaking with traditions in retailing up to that point, all items sold in store had a clearly marked, non-negotiable price. Later they began to make their own fine jewellery, and also sold clocks, silverware and ornaments. In order to distinguish their goods the partners introduced a distinctive box in a robin's-egg shade of blue. The colour gradually became known as Tiffany Blue, and was later established as a trademark. 

In 1853, Charles Tiffany took full control of the business, renaming the store Tiffany & Co. Business prospered. The company became a supplier to President Abraham Lincoln, and produced ceremonial swords, flags and surgical instruments for the Union Army during the Civil War. In 1871, Tiffany introduced its famed Audubon sterling silver flatware range, inspired by 19th century Japanese painting. Towards the end of that decade Charles Tiffany made headlines when he acquired what became known as the Tiffany diamond, one of the world's finest yellow diamonds, weighing in uncut at 287 carats. It was cut down to 127 carats, with an unprecedented 92 facets. The company was also commissioned to redesign the Great Seal of the United States, which continues to grace the modern one-dollar bill. The purchase and exhibition in 1887 of some of the French Imperial crown jewels added to Tiffany's fame.

In 1902, control of the company passed to Charles's son Louis Comfort Tiffany, already a well-established artist. He introduced glassware into the store, launching the much prized Tiffany lamps. However the Great Depression severely damaged business at the end of the 1920s. Following Louis Tiffany's death in 1933, the company faced financial difficulty and the family raised capital by selling a 30% shareholding to Bulova Watch Co in 1938. As a result of the outbreak of the Second World War, the group closed its sole international retail outlets in London and Paris, and devoted its attentions to the US market. In 1950, the store's new Fifth Avenue headquarters were celebrated in Truman Capote's novel Breakfast at Tiffany's, which introduced fictional society girl Holly Golightly. The book only reinforced the desirability of the brand. Poor Holly can't afford to shop at Tiffany; instead she cheers herself up by spending early mornings gazing longingly at its windows. 

Now threatened with a full takeover by Bulova, the Tiffany family sold their shareholding in 1955 to conglomerate Hoving Corporation, which also owned Bonwit Teller. In 1961, Walter Hoving bought out both his own group and Bulova to take Tiffany independent again. At around the same time a film adaptation of Capote's novel became a big hit, establishing actress Audrey Hepburn as the quintessential Tiffany woman. In order to exploit the wider interest in the store, Tiffany opened its first regional US store in 1963, in San Francisco, quickly followed by Houston and Beverly Hills. In 1972, after a 30-plus year absence from the  international market, a Tiffany outlet was launched in Tokyo, as a concession within the Mitsukoshi department store. It was the beginning of an association that continues to this day. 

In 1979 the company was acquired for $94m by Avon, which decided to reposition the brand towards more affordable designs. This met with little success and CEO William Chaney led a management buyout seven years later to take the company independent once again. The first European store since 1939 opened in London in 1986, and a year later Tiffany launched an IPO to pay off debt. At the time there were only eight stores in the US, but Chaney initiated a careful but steady expansion of the chain to 45 outlets in the US by 2002. He stepped down the following year and was replaced by Michael Kowalski. Steady expansion has continued in the US and also in Europe and Asia.


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