Tiffany & Co is one of the most prestigious brand names in the world, a reputation for excellence that any company would die for iconic blue boxes that are a byword in opulent gift giving and Fifth Avenue NYC address for their flagship store. However they built up their current standing over a long time.
Tiffany’s was founded in NYC 1837 but not originally as exclusively a jewelry store. Initially they sold stationary and other goods and the focus on jewelry didn’t get underway until 1853. They started a mail order catalogue which included jewelry in 1845 called the Blue Book which ran until quite the late 1900′s, showing a willingness from the first to be bold in their retail strategies.
They were the first in the nation to establish the practice of marking goods with their sale price to stop haggling. They also insisted on cash only and refused to give credit, a practice in the 19th Century which often bought stores more lenient to their knees when people wouln’t pay up.
With their focus on jewelry of a very high standard, other related goods such as porcelain, glass, watches and special pieces for the army and Government, they built up reputation so unassailable that they became the go-to people for the striking of medals, the forging of ceremonial swords and for the the redesign of national emblems such as the Great Seal of the United States.
They did not stay in the one place in NYC. The location of the first store is not known but by 1870 they had built a store at 15 Unions Square. From there the store went to 37th Street and from 1940 their flagship store has been located in Fifth Avenue at 57th Street Manhattan. The store is noted for it’s big windows and the dazzling displays housed within them. Now of course they have 298 stores spread around the world.
The firm is no longer owned by the Tiffany family and once it was sold there was some diversification into a broad range of mass goods for those not able to buy diamonds worth a small fortune at the drop of a hat. These days their reputation for high end fabulous jewelry is firmly maintained but alongside that there is more affordable jewelry on offer for those of more modest means.
One of their main advetrtising ventures each year is the design and presentation of a very beautiful and original Christmas Window. There is steely competitionb between about a dozen NYC stores to have the best Christmas window. Tiffany is an enthusiastic and worthy competitor in this competition and if you are in NYC over the holdiay period make time to go and see it.
Tiffany’s has of course come to stand for more than it is. A place which in the popular imagination is peopled only by the great and rich, where great romances play out as in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and THE place to buy diamonds as in ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’. Such brand recognition is worth more than diamonds and Tiffany’s plays it up for all it is worth.