Wednesday, September 26, 2007


In the world of retailing, few items are as recognizable as the turquoise Tiffany & Co. box wrapped in a white satin bow. And -- not coincidentally -- even fewer American companies have enjoyed close to two centuries worth of growth and appeal as this venerable New York institution.

Tiffany has survived and prospered because its management always welcomed new talent, trends and marketing techniques. While the competition remained change resistant, Tiffany & Co. managed to retain an aura of quality and elegance while embracing the evolving tastes of its customers.
Below is the path Tiffany went through over the years to achieve the renowned status they are in.


*The beginning: 1837 - Charles Lewis Tiffany and his brother-in-law, John Burnett Young, opened a small "stationery and fancy goods emporium" in New York. Their first day’s sales totaled $4.98. (And today, the company’s annual sales are close to $1.6 billion!!!)

*The story behind the blue box: The iconic color originated with French painter Jean-Marc Nattier, who used the color that ultimately became known as "Nattier blue." This shade was a favorite of Marie Antoinette. And it was Empress Eugenie’s favorite for her wardrobe and furniture while she and Napoleon III ruled from 1853 to 1870.

According to retail legend, 11 years after his store opened, Charles Tiffany decided to buy some of the French crown jewels, including a diamond necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette. During these pre-Civil War years in America, having a European "royal connection" was considered a marketing coup.

*1840s - Charles Tiffany insisted on "upgrading" his store’s image with a European influx of jewelry.

*Two acquired assets in 1851: Charles Tiffany had bought the John C. Moore Co. which was able to add silverware, and Moore’s talented son, Edward, become director of Tiffany's silver shop for the next 40 years. Edward Moore introduced unusual Eastern themes and techniques (Persian, Japanese, and Chinese) on the silver that he designed for the company.

*1862 - President Abraham Lincoln bought a suite of pearl and gold jewelry for his wife. During the Civil War, the store made a fortune by supplying the Union army with swords, rifles, metals and badges.

*1867 - Tiffany & Co. became the first American company to win an award for excellence in silverware at the Paris Exposition Universelle.

*DIAMOND HISTORY (1886) - Charles Tiffany introduced the 6-prong platinum mount for engagement rings. Before this time, diamonds had been set into metal, but the new setting raised the stone and allowed light to sparkle through the gem.

*Beginning of the 20th century -Tiffany's had established itself as America’s premier jewelry store for excellence in design, craftsmanship and materials.

*1902 - The death of Charles Tiffany. All the major silver and jewelry retailers and manufacturers in New York closed during his funeral as a sign of respect.

*1907 - Tiffany's son, Lewis Comfort Tiffany, had his own business designing lamps, vases and jewelry but by this time, he merged his business with the established Tiffany store in New York.

*20s and 30s - Tiffany prospered during the Roaring Twenties and even managed to survive the Depression well into the 1930s.

*1940 - Tiffany broke ground on what was to become its permanent headquarters at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street.

*1987 - Tiffany had its initial public offering which was also the year when the first Tiffany store opened in London.

Portland Business Journal

The story behind Tiffany & Co.'s success just goes to show how hard work and perseverance pays off. It has gone from a fancy goods store to an international jewelry giant having 167 stores around the world and almost 9,000 employees. The next time you see one of those blue boxes, think of all the talent, time, and creativity that it took to make Tiffany & Co. become an enduring brand and symbol of good taste and design excellence around the world.

--My Life Is Beautiful

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