Tiffany: The world's most famous jewellery brand is in India

It has created a perception of luxury that few can ape

Just a few weeks ago, a luxury brand I thought would never come to India, arrived here. Tiffany & Co, the celebrated jewellery brand from New York, opened at Mumbai’s Jio World Plaza with a party that had more movie stars than Karan Johar’s house. Ranveer Singh, Karisma Kapoor, Vedang Raina, Khushi Kapoor and several others made their way to the opening party.

Ranveer is an unusual choice for the luxury label’s brand ambassador. For one, it is largely a women’s jewellery label. But one that is known for its engagement rings, and Ranveer has long claimed fame as the ideal husband and boyfriend. The movie star arrived dressed in an all-white satin ensemble, wearing some men’s pieces from Tiffany’s.

Tiffany’s is an unusual brand study. It is the world’s most successful jewellery brand, selling not necessarily the most expensive jewellery pieces. But in 2019, it accounted for nearly $4.5 billion in sales. In 2019, it was bought over by the LVMH group that released a statement earlier this year showing Tiffany & Co had made “record sales”.

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Tiffany has more than 300 stores in the world, over 13,000 employees and 500 artisans working in-house. It specialises in silver jewellery, but also luxury diamonds and stones.

Its 2019 sale to LVMH was completed only in 2021. Thanks to the Covid pandemic, LVMH argued to pay less than the agreed amount. Tiffany sued LVMH in a Delaware court forcing the French luxury conglomerate to honour the deal. The two companies finally reached a settlement where LVMH paid a little less than its initial offer. LVMH still ended up paying nearly $16 billion, making this the world’s largest-ever luxury deal.

What makes Tiffany so special? Its marketing strategies. The same reason why it is here in India, to sell to us what we already make best—high-end jewellery. Tiffany has created a brand value, a perception of luxury, that few can ape. Much of this is located at its home turf, its fabulous store on New York’s Fifth Avenue.

The store is a destination in itself. It was immortalised by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Another Hollywood classic, Sleepless in Seattle, was shot here in 1993, and then Fashion Victim in 2002.

Most of Tiffany’s revenue comes from its small silver products—its lock bracelet, its heart tag pendants, and such. It is also a go-to place for engagement rings; Nick Jonas had apparently closed down the luxury store to buy a diamond ring for his then girlfriend Priyanka Chopra. It has just finished a $500 million renovation that includes custom art, including a Damien Hirst and a cafe by celebrity chef Daniel Boulud.

Tiffany’s founders, two 25-year-old friends, actually began to buy stones from European royalty in the 1800s, including Marie Antoinette, and allowed Americans to buy real stones locally for the first time. Tiffany’s jewellery designs are instantly recognisable, but more famous is its iconic blue box. Tiffany Blue, a robin’s egg-blue, is an internationally protected colour under IP laws.

Luxury labels are excited about India again, and many of them have even brought down prices here despite high duties and taxes. Shopping for several labels in India is now 7 to 10 per cent cheaper than in the Middle East and Singapore. Like Tiffany did in the US, Sabyasachi Mukherjee has disrupted the jewellery market in India. His jewellery is now his most profitable business, and has taught Indians that they must pay for designer jewels.

Tiffany, and its elegant little blue boxes, are cashing in on the same sentiment.