Tuesday, February 2, 2010

nothing bad could ever happen to you in a place like Tiffany's

A few close friends know about my love for Tiffany & Co. But I feel the need to share with the world just how much I love this company and what it really means to me. Now, I don't pride myself on being particularly materialistic, and it's not likely that I'll ever spend a good deal of money at Tiffany's on those stupid little trinkets that they have, like this $150 sterling silver bubble blower. But, I know that when I have the money to spend on a significant piece of jewelery I will go to Tiffany's.

Let me tell you why. When I was in high school I went to San Francisco with a friend to see the city and go shopping. At the end of the day we passed Tiffany's and he really wanted to go in. I had an armful of bags, I was sweaty, wearing my oversized lettermen jacket, and looked like a 16 year old mess. But I wanted to buy something from Tiffany's. So i found a place where I could pile all my crap, in the corner by the elevator, and looked through the store. I felt like I did not belong in this beautiful place where the cheapest thing I could find was a $40 champagne flute. I decided to buy it, because it was the cheapest thing, even though I could never use it and would probably just give it to my mom for a Christmas present or something. When I asked for help I expected the clerk to be snooty and snobby. He wasn't. He was respectful and kind. I told him I wanted the flute and he said "Just one?" "Yes, I said. It's a replacement. For my mom." I felt dumb for lying, but he didn't seem to care anyway. He asked if I wanted it giftwrapped and put it in this lovely little box, and wrapped it up with one of those lovely little red bows. All this fuss, over a little champagne flute. I was impressed and I felt good.

A few years later I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's for the first time, and it immediately became my favorite movie. And I'm telling you now that it is my favorite film. Number 1 on my all time list. Why? Because it's about these really two screwed up people, basically prostitutes, who decide that they can be more, and that they can do it together. They learn to value themselves and each other, not for what they could give or get, but for who they are. And in the film is that famous line that has always stuck with me: "Nothing bad could ever happen to you in a place like Tiffany's." I felt that way when I had gone in there before. Also, when they were in Tiffany's they did something which I always do, make the cheapest purchase possible. For them they got engraved a little metal ring, and of course the salesman treated them as if they were spendings thousands of dollars.

A couple years ago I went back to the Tiffany's in San Francisco, and I decided I wanted to make another purchase. I determined to find the cheapest thing I possibly could, which ended up being a lovely set of playing cards which I bought for $30. I of course experienced the same treatment as before and was really impressed with them. It didn't feel like I was poor and buying the cheapest item in the whole store. The last time I went was THE Tiffany store in New York, the very one where Holly Golightly stood, staring in the window and eating her pastry, at the beginning of Breakfast at Tiffany's. It was at Christmas time and decorated to the hilt. This time I indicated to the saleswoman that I wanted the least expensive item in the store. I told her I had bought playing cards before and was thinking of getting another set in a different color. "No!" she said, "You have to buy something for yourself!" and she found a little leather notebook with silver engravings on it and convinced me to buy it for $40.

So basically, this place is smart. Unlike some other high end stores and boutiques, especially those in Europe, Tiffany & Co. is not concerned with making its potential customers feel like they don't belong to some elite group. It's not about providing the most important people with items that are the most difficult to obtain. I feel like it's about the product, that they believe that the things they create and sell are beautiful and people should enjoy those beautiful things. They know that if they can treat a poor college student with dignity and respect that that poor college student may come back some day with a sense of loyalty to their company. And I probably will. I feel a loyalty to Tiffany's also because there are memories and emotional connections to it. I love the role it played in my favorite film, and I love how they provided a stupid, awkward 16 year old with a wonderful experience. I can't forget that.

I want my wedding ring to come from Tiffany's and I've found the perfect one. It's a silver band, with a tiny diamond inset. And it costs $275. The price is reasonable, it's made by a company I respect and not some jeweler at the mall, and it comes in a lovely little blue box with a red ribbon. What more could you ask for?

1 comment:

  1. i absolutely LOVE this post. i'm not really into diamonds, but when i went to Tifanny's with you that one time, i fell in love and understood why it is that people love that place so much. i later took Aline and we tried all these rings. although the sale clerk knew we wouldn't be purchasing any, they let us try them anyway. i love that. btw, that ring is so beautiful and elegant. it's perfect.