The Added Costs of Jewelry at the Oscars: Looking at the Taylor-Burton Diamond

Lots of excitement surrounded Lady Gaga for wearing the Tiffany Yellow Diamond last worn by Audrey Hepburn. Several articles on seeing this stunning piece were covered by JCK, Independent, and Town & Country .   Lady Gaga’s jewelry and performance will be looked backed on for many years but you wonder if it’s worth the cost? Business of Fashion put out an article titled, Does Oscar Fashion Still Matter? (accessible only to BOF Professional subscribers) Drawing attention to some of the numbers a recent poll referenced in the article found 44% of Americans did not watch the awards show red carpet coverage. I was in those numbers. Of the 56% that did only 6% said they watched for the fashion. (This was a sample size of 2,203) So how much does the jewelry matter? And what is the cost to a jewelry house? I can’t get specific numbers of current celebs, but I want to look back at one of the most famous red-carpet jewel and star, Elizabeth Taylor at the 1970 Oscars wearing the famous Taylor-Burton Diamond.

Elizabeth Taylor presenting at 1970 Oscars

Brief Background on Taylor-Burton Diamond

The Taylor-Burton Diamond has been mentioned by Taylor in books and interviews. The cost of the jewel was disclosed at being $1,050,000 in 1969 bought from Cartier. Taylor wore this 69.42 carat pear with diamond set necklace to the 1970 Oscars accompanied by her husband and actor Richard Burton.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor at 1970 Oscars, Taylor wearing Taylor-Burton Diamond

Taylor presented that year so many people got to see this piece on display. The cost of insuring it was $1 million by Lloyd’s of London. Taylor could wear the diamond out 30 days of the year, for all others it was locked in a safe. The diamond was sold in 1979 for between $3-$5 million to New York jeweler, Henry Lambert who sold it that same year to jewelry house Mouawad for close to $5 million.

The Added Cost of High Jewelry

Since the numbers are not available for the Tiffany Diamonds cost to be out, I will look at what it cost Elizabeth Taylor to wear that gem out.

I mentioned above the numbers from that time period, but I want to adjust them for inflation, so we see the price in today’s dollars.  You can check out other prices from the CPI calculator I found online here.

Tiffany Diamond Estimate

The Tiffany Diamond is 128 carats and valued at over $30 million by a CBS report. The diamond has not been out since the Audrey Hepburn stills for Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1962. My guess is that Tiffany bought an insurance policy for this event and if Lady Gaga did not already have jeweler’s insurance she likely signed off that she would be financially responsible if something were to happen. I found an article detailing more about celebrity jewelry policies here. This is one of the main reason stars don’t own their jewelry. The cost would likely be much greater than Taylor’s piece.

Tiffany Press

Will this really boost Tiffany’s bottom line? The reason for exposure at an award show is to create brand awareness to sell to those watching these shows. Since Tiffany is a publicly traded company, I will take a peak at their first and second quarter financials when they become available. I would be interested in seeing how the Tiffany Diamond is mentioned and displayed in the store with this new celebrity connection. What I wouldn’t give to see the numbers on the foot traffic over the year in the NYC Fifth Avenue store!

Final Thoughts

So far, the response seems mostly positive following Hepburn is a hard act, but Tiffany is trying to make their industry relevant which benefits more than Tiffany. If you are looking at new ways to market your product and need some guidance on how to measure its effectiveness. Also, if you need help making sure you are accounting for all your costs when launching a campaign or starting a new business venture. Contact me at data.inthe.rough@gmail.com ! Thank you for reading this post and for all the Elizabeth Taylor fans out there I didn’t forget Dame Taylor’s birthday tomorrow!  Return soon for more Data in the Rough!

A Review of Windows at Tiffany & Co

It’s Christmas time in the city and that means Christmas windows are up! Some of the most well-known windows in the jewelry industry are Tiffany & Co window displays. The iconic scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s was the start of the movie when Holly Golightly gets out of the cab in front of Tiffany’s New York City boutique window takes out a croissant staring at the jewels. Only in the movies, I have passed by Tiffany’s on numerous occasions and can barely get a clear photo with all the people walking by let alone, sit in front of the window and have a snack! Yesterday was a different experience. I went in not to browse but to buy something! I recently went through a job loss, so I couldn’t splurge on any jewels, but I did purchase a book. Windows at Tiffany & Co. has been published by Assouline and can be purchased online on in their flagship NYC store, which is where I purchased mine. In this post I will share my thoughts on the book, the Tiffany windows and my experience purchasing my first Tiffany blue box!

Window displays have interested me for as long as I can remember, it has only been since I started as a business analyst over 5 years ago that I see the incredible impact and reach a window display can have. The book is a small book, around 9 x 6.5 inches with 80 pages. The images are nice, several of them I remember seeing. There is a short history about the windows at Tiffany, starting with Charles Lewis Tiffany and his understanding that people wanted to be entertained. The book clearly states the purpose of the Tiffany windows to set a stage and allow the public to dream about the treasure and possibility the world holds. I agree with that but also would add that it should try and pull people into the store to try and own a little piece of that dream. Finding a balance between fantasy and function is not easy. Window displays are a great marketing tool to encourage impulse purchases and make your store a destination. That was the plan for Charles Lewis Tiffany in the Windows at Tiffany book there is a reference to a Tiffany window in an 1800s novel describing the “windows at Tiffany being ‘on fire with diamonds’”. What a sight that would have been!

Tiffany has been known to have some great window displays and the book credits Gene Moore with many of those. Moore took over as creative director in 1955 and retired in 1994. An obituary by the New York Times goes into more details about his accomplishments. Growing up in a small city from Illinois I did not pass by Tiffany windows in my youth. I only know some of the recent windows. One of my favorites was from 2015 it was a simple design around a reindeer theme. I remember coming up to the NYC Tiffany window and seeing a majestic white reindeer draped in Tiffany diamonds and nearby was a Schlumberger bird brooch and in another window a sleigh with jewelry. Pardon my photos was still getting use to taking photos with my camera.

 

 

The next year had more opulent windows but still showed off plenty of jewelry! My favorite was the dinner scene, but the tree was a close second! These are from the Boston Tiffany window.

This year’s Tiffany windows won’t be knocking my choices lower on the list. The theme is around Believe in Dreams. I recently saw the commercial with Zoe Kravitz. It is embedded below if you would like to watch.

 

It is definitely an edgier Tiffany with the ‘Dream On’ song playing and some fantasy references like the Alice in Wonderland themed tea party for some of the frames. The windows did not really translate that dreaming theme to me.  It really came across as more new age techie. I feel like Tiffany windows were trying too hard to be modern and appeal to the social media crowd. The photos were taken on Monday by me are below.

A mention of social media is in the book about how different the window function is today from windows past due to this change in technology. If that is the case, then the Tiffany windows may need to try and design around that theme. I’d like to see a display that shows people in the store using social media, taking photos and sharing with the public. I didn’t take any photos of the jewelry inside. Some places are still restrictive on photos inside due to insurance reasons and with being short on time I headed up to get my book.

I went to the 4th floor with Home and Accessories. The associate was very friendly. The book was on display and once I mentioned this was the item I wanted he went back to get a copy. I was served some water from a Tiffany blue paper cup (which I kept) while I waited for the transaction to finish. My book came in a blue box and I was out in a matter of minutes. With the holiday rush I was glad. I did stop to look at a display on the ground floor. Tiffany jewelers working in front of the potential customers.

Right before the elevators there is a closed off area that you can see through where these artisans are working on jewelry/gifts. I thought this was nice to see. I wish the windows would convey more of the craftsmanship than this trying to be cool theme. Tiffany like many other brands is trying to change their message to appeal to millennials, when Tiffany needs to hold on to their aspirational message.   There are many jewelry items I want to own but not to be ‘cool’ or fit in but to show I have achieved something or mark a memory; those things take time.

You might be seeing this messaging too or are thinking about your own brand’s identity. If you are looking for some input send me an email at: data.inthe.rough@gmail.com for a consulting session. If you have seen the Tiffany windows or commercial and agree/disagree with my analysis, please let me know in the comments. And if you are interested in purchasing the Windows at Tiffany & Co. book the link is here. Please come back soon for updates and analysis on the auctions, there were some great pieces that I saw and one piece that is back on the block that I plan to feature once the results are in! Thank you for reading Data in the Rough!

Analysis of Audrey Hepburn Auction at Christie’s

Analysis of Audrey Hepburn Auction at Christie’s

 

‘I have learned how to live, how to be IN the world and OF the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either.’ ~ Audrey Hepburn (Sabrina 1954)

Remember watching Sabrina and hearing Ms. Hepburn’s voice speak these lines as she is writing to her father? Maybe you remember the first sign of her up in the morning peering into the Tiffany window with her long black dress, pearls and sunglasses in Breakfast at Tiffany’s? No matter the movie Hepburn became that part and it was fantastic! In late September her family auctioned off some memorabilia, personal items and photographs of the late Audrey Hepburn at Christie’s in London. Another Hollywood legend had her items auctioned that week too, you can read my analysis here.

I had some assumptions about this auction and in my analysis, you can draw your own opinions about the sale. Let’s start off with the types of items sold and location of the auction.

Types of Lots

I condensed the lots to a total of 10 types/ categories to better analyze. Fashion is for clothes, outfits and fashion accessories are shoe, hats, gloves, etc. Personal accessories included luggage, makeup cases, etc.

In contrast to Vivien Leigh’s auction, Hepburn’s was more focused on her Hollywood persona. Many of her lots were photographs and scripts from various movie roles. Which is why I was disappointed in the location of the auction.

Location

The sale and preview resided in London, England. There was not even a tour of Hepburn’s key photos and movie memorabilia.  Hepburn was Hollywood royalty, even though she lived abroad I think there was a devoted enough fan base in the United States for it to have made sense to hold the auction here instead of London. There was interest worldwide naturally but in Hepburn’s case not enough to sell all her items like Vivien Leigh.

Sold versus Unsold

Note: I am only looking at the live auction not the separate online auction that went into early October.

Below is a bar graph of the sold and unsold lots by type.  The gray bar to the right with the percentage marks how much out of 100% did not sell.

Only 4 categories had a lot or two that did not sell, those were personal accessories, jewelry, fashion accessories and fashion. To get a better idea of the amount which was small, I have a table with the count of what sold versus unsold by lot.

You can see the biggest types sold were Photographs, followed by Documents/Scripts. This auction was not Hepburn the person but of the movie star. Jewelry had the highest number of items unsold (to be fair it is only 3 items). So, what went unsold and why?

Unsold Lots

Below are the 8 unsold lots with type, lot number and description.

I am focusing on the jewelry for the interest of this post.

Unsold Jewelry

Hepburn’s collection was of costume jewelry except for a few items I will mention later, so the amount it would sell for was not expected to be extremely high. I was a little surprised to see these 3 unsold until I looked at the pearl necklace lots, they are just strands of costume pearls, very basic with no special sentiment tied to them. The colored glass bead set was one of the first lots up. I loved the colors of this set!

A closer examination saw how deteriorated they were and would need major restoration if possible. Something to think about when listing, is this piece in good condition or is there significance to the piece that can be translated to a story? So, what did sell?

Top Lots at Auction

Hepburn’s items still did very well of the 246 that did sell 90% were above the high estimate and many were in the 1000’s for the percentage above calculation. I removed the buyer’s premium for the calculation of the percent above high estimate. Here are the top 5 lots (in USD).

No surprise Breakfast at Tiffany’s lots made it to the top. The jewelry item is my focus for this part.

The Always bangle was given to Hepburn by Steven Spielberg, for her role as Hap in her last film the 1989 film, “Always”. Spielberg wrote to Hepburn about how she inspired him and loved her in, “Wait Until Dark” and “Two for the Road”. After the filming her present Hepburn with this bangle inscribed on the inside, You are my “inspiration” Always, Steven. Outside is engraved, Audrey. It’s no wonder that this piece sold so well!

What were your favorite Audrey Hepburn movies? What items were you watching for the auction? If you were able to go to the viewing or have any comments, please share! I hope you enjoyed my take on the auction. Return soon for more Data in the Rough!

Christmas Time in the City: Boston Jewelry Stores’ Holiday Window Displays

It’s that time of the year again! People are busy shopping for gifts and then cold and snow slow down your plans. You are determined to go out but with a plan and a list! Good for you! In these quests for gifts have you taken any time to just look around at the holiday window displays? I took last weekend to do some shopping and some admiring around the Boston area jewelry stores.

I went to Newbury Street first. This is a major luxury shopping street. It has several big brand and local stores. The windows of the shops are small so I only took photos of windows with a holiday theme that was present. A favorite window of mine when I go to Newbury Street is Cartier.

Cartier

With the New York renovation these windows don’t pull you in as quickly but the incorporation of the brand with the holiday season is excellent. I do miss the boxes on the trees outside the store that doubled as ornaments but it is still a beautiful display.

I couldn’t post just the display but I wanted to look at a few of the items that stood out in the display. The ring to the left is the Galanterie de Cartier ring that reads on the website to be made of white diamonds and black lacquer set in white gold. The earrings  are from the same collection with the same materials, links are included.

I love how they added the Cartier panther to the windows as a finishing touch!

Shreve, Crump, & Low

This display is my pick for the best jewelry! The window is traditional with garlands and winter figurines.

The jewelry however has a bit of everything! The window as you can see is very large so I will focus on some key pieces.

The first will be the three necklaces that are the main pieces of the window!

I edited out the glare and helped make the colors richer than my camera could pick up! The ruby necklace on the left is over a quarter of a million dollars and has 25.28ct of rubies and 32.29ct of diamonds set in platinum. The Diamond Wreath Necklace to the right has 65.15ct of diamonds set in platinum and comes at a lower price point of $200,000. My favorite is the ruby necklace but the final necklace comes very close to it.

This is a vintage one of a kind Boucheron Diamond Necklace from an prior estate that has made it to Newbury Street! The center cushion cut diamond is 3.52ct. The clarity of this stone is a VVS1, which for those unfamiliar with the grading system is a step below IF (internally flawless) which is about the best you can have in clarity. This really is a showstopper and just a little over half a million dollars! Links are underlined if you want more details on these pieces.

Shreve’s had the window with some winter/ Christmas themes next to smaller items. Those ruby earrings again pieces I love to see. One more before moving on…

The photo did not come out as well as I hoped because the color of the diamonds is hard to tell. This 11.16ct Blue Sapphire Ring is surround by a layer of light colored pink diamonds then a layer of white diamonds on the outside.

John Lewis

I don’t have too many details on this shop. The display is small but the prices are listed for these items which I like. I also thought the use of small wrapped packages was a nice touch in staying true to this small, minimalist display. All the jewelry displayed is sterling silver. A link to where the business is located here.

Alexis Bittar

Not a traditional fine jewelry brand, he has a line but my focus was on his fashion jewelry line.The holiday window display for his store was in my opinion, the most creative use of a display I saw that day!

A lot of jewelry is displayed but in the most traditional way for the holidays, hanging up ornaments! A close up below!

What do you think?

Tiffany & Co

There are two Tiffany stores in Boston. I went to the one inside an indoor mall, to reduce the glare and get some better light. I also love the extra touch of adding the diamond decals to the outside of the store. A close up of the design is below.

 

Another great part to the decorations is the Tiffany tree! Trimmed with the signature blue boxes and ornaments in the shapes of diamonds! Oh to have a tree stacked with all those Tiffany gifts!!

Now on to the windows. The store has two windows to have its holiday window display. The first one I saw was an elaborate dinner table set for a fabulous party.

I love the details of adding the jewelry on the plates as though the are only little party favors! It recalls stories I read of the high society life in America before income tax came into effect. One story I remember talked about guests opening their napkins to find a gold bracelet as a gift from the hostess.

The other window on the right is the traditional tree complete with Tiffany presents. I have always enjoyed Tiffany’s window displays especially the holiday window displays because of their more traditional approach. It’s nice to look at a window and think pretty instead of ‘what was that?’

What are your favorite stores to go and see the holiday window displays? Thank you for reading and return soon for more from Data in the Rough! And have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday!