Letters of Life

The Lure of Tiffany’s

In between flashes of epiphany, I have decided to delight a little in Tiffany’s.

My first Tiffany piece was the kidney bean sterling silver pendant, designed by Elsa Peretti.

The kidney bean

It is so simple and understated that in all honesty, I didn’t get a kick out of wearing it day in day out because it was one of the quietest pieces of jewellery I ever owned. It was so quiet I’d forget I was wearing it.

But the allure of Tiffany beckoned. My second piece was a heart pendant,

From the Tiffany Notes collection

except it had “XOXO” inscribed on it, in tribute to my then-favourite TV series, Gossip Girl (Season 1 and 2). One of the main characters, Serena van der Woodsen, actually wears a Tiffany Notes gold pendant, which I have also.

Return to Tiffany pendant

The allure began, for me in little Singapore, with the Audrey Hepburn film of course. The branding of Tiffany is flawless, probably has been since day one (circa 1837), and its designs have been worn by such famous U.S. families as the Astors, the Vanderbilts, Posts, Huttons and the Morgans. Athletes, Hollywood stars, and even European royalty adored these diamonds. Museums valued the Tiffany designs, which ranged from the Art Nouveau period to Art Deco to today’s modern styles.

Reach for the starfish


Did you know that it was a Tiffany’s gemologist who was instrumental in the international adoption of the metric carat as a weight standard for gems? And that the Tiffany standard for sterling and platinum have been adopted as United States Standards? There’s quality, cache, and influence for you.

Of course anything worth its weight in carats is going to be copied. I found vendors peddling rip-offs of the elegant pendants and charms I knew so well on a sidewalk of Krabi last year. At $10 for the iconic starfish by Elsa Peretti, why not?

The Tiffany key is elegance nonpareil with its rounded body and intricate fretwork on the heads of the keys. This one is a checkerboard diamond pendant, which is even lighter than the kidney bean, and cost at least 20 times as much. The first time I tried it on, I was wearing my white Club Monaco tee, a fairy-like cotton skirt, and a white angora cap, which was a nod to Tokyo style. The pendant fit right into the look and I was hooked.

A thing of beauty

I know, I know, these are overpriced doodads. But what doodads they are!
“There’s a tremendous profit margin on the tchotchkes they’re selling and I understand the appeal of that. But the most valuable thing that Tiffany has is their brand name. You can’t be everything to everybody.” — Howard Davidowitz, chairman of a New-York-based retail consulting and investment-banking firm.

He’s right, you know. What Tiffany has is resonance. Bling!

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2 Responses »

  1. Yes, the starfish is rather nice … have it for years but guess I only wore it once or at most twice … wonder if it’s still a blink now.

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