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Tiffany & Co. Confident that New Hires will Revive Lagging U.S. Business

By Todd Gray

October 11, 2013

This morning the Rapaport TradeWire® reported that Sterne Agee analyst Ike Boruchow upgraded shares in Tiffany & Co. from “Neutral” to “Buy” with a target price of $86, citing a highly visible margin recapture in the upcoming 18 to 24 months.

One of the reasons stated for the increased confidence in the stock price of Tiffany & Co., is a reference to “impressive hires” of two directors which are “strong enough” that Tiffany can expect to revive its lagging U.S. business, as indicated in a note that was sent out to clients of Sterne Agee.

I’m going to roll the dice and state that I disagree:

The news snipped contained in today’s Rapaport TradeWire® states that “In a note to clients, Boruchow described ”impressive hires” Anthony Ledru, head of the North American retail business, and Francesca Amfitheatrof, design director, as strong enough additions to the team that Tiffany & Co. can expect to revive its lagging U.S. business.”

Based upon my experience secret shopping Tiffany & Co., I’d say that Anthony Ledru has his work cut out for him, I found the sales staff at Tiffany to lack true knowledge about the basic 4C’s of diamond grading, and they were completely inept when it came to discussing diamond cut quality.

In an age when an abundance of diamond grading information is readily available to diamond buyers via the internet, the staff of a high end jewelry store such as Tiffany should at least be as knowledgeable as their customers when it comes to talking about the nature of clarity characteristics, polish, symmetry, and proportions.

I can’t even tell you how dumbfounded I was when I walked out of the last Tiffany & Co., that I visited by the total lack of diamond grading knowledge that faced me from across the sales counter… I was stunned, simply stunned. Especially by the answer which I got when I asked the sales woman about treated diamonds, in reference to a line on the diamond summary sheet that is the in-house property of Tiffany which read “Treatment: None” because her explanation was mind boggling and actually referenced a type of diamond simulant, which is clearly not a diamond treatment.

If Anthony Ledru expects to turn business around for Tiffany & Co., in the U.S. market, I suggest that he begin by creating an extensive training program that every Tiffany sales associate must attend and pass with flying colors…

It would also be great if they would get off of their high horse and start sending their diamonds to independent gemological laboratories like the GIA and AGSL for grading like pretty much every other jeweler in America, because telling your customers things like “Trust us, it’s a Tiffany diamond” is not really all that reassuring!

And he might want to get the board of directors to reconsider their decision not to sell diamonds online. Of course that would require tightening up the overall diamond cut quality of the diamonds which Tiffany & Co. sells, because the average online diamond buyer seems to know more about diamond cut quality than the sales associates that I’ve dealt with at Tiffany, and when provided with basic details such as the total depth, table diameter, crown angle, pavilion angle, girdle thickness and culet size, they’re likely to realize that they can purchase a much better-cut diamond for a lot less from the Signature Collection of Brian Gavin Diamonds, and James Allen True Hearts.

No, I definitely do not agree with Sterne Agee that hiring two new directors is going to turn things around for Tiffany & Co., here in the United States. The only way that is going to happen is if they get with the times and start to provide their customers with the detailed diamond grading information that they crave, today’s consumer is well educated and wants to conduct business on their terms.

About the author

A mad scientist with a passion for improving diamond cut quality to maximize light performance and sparkle factor. I speak geek in degrees of optical precision between bouts of freediving. My ghostwritten ramblings haunt the rabbit holes of information found on many diamond vendor sites. Diamond buyer, author, consultant, errant seeker of deep blue water.

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  1. Todd,
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge, I’ve read all your articles and have now seen the light (pun intended).
    If it was just me, buying a diamond for myself, I’d definetly do online and forsake Tiffany’s because I hate a lack of transparency and information. Besides, their salesperson was a joke when I visited. However, my girlfriend is a big Audrey Hepburn fan and has long dreamed of a Tiffany engagement ring.
    How do I go about picking the best ring for my buck? How do I analyze their diamonds? Is it possible to determine optical performance on your proportions alone, or should I have it sent off to AGSL? Not sure this is possible. If not, how should I use their in-house report? I’d appreciate your advise to make my $15,000 go as far as possible.

    1. Thank you for your comment, I believe that it is possible to purchase diamonds from Tiffany & Co., that perform well; I think that it will just be a matter of convincing whichever sales person that you’re working with that you are not their run of the mill customer… they are capable of providing crown and pavilion angle measurements, which will enable you to shop for diamonds from Tiffany based upon the numbers, which is a good start; I recommend reading my article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success, and perhaps printing a copy out and taking it with you when you go to the store (that should be fun by the way, please let me know how that goes!)

      Feel free to email me the proportions details for any diamonds that you are considering from Tiffany if you’d like a quick analysis of the numbers, my email address is diamonds[at]niceice.com Of course there is no way to judge the optical symmetry of Tiffany Diamonds without being able to view them while unmounted through reflector scopes, such as an ASET Scope, Ideal Scope, or a Hearts & Arrows scope, but limiting your search to the proportions parameters that I adhere to is a great start!

  2. I am new to jewelry and also wish that I would get additional certification on top of the tiffany certificate.
    When you visit different tiffany locations, never mind the sales associate, are the diamonds still top quality??

    How does one get their diamonds certified by GIA and AGSL? I’m assuming it isn’t free.

    1. Hello Joy, it is possible for a consumer to submit a diamond to the GIA or AGS gemological laboratories for grading, I tend to prefer the American Gem Society Laboratory (AGSL) because of the additional insight provided by their proprietary Angular Spectrum Evaluation Technology (ASET) which measures the brightness of the diamond and shows whether light is being reflected throughout the diamond evenly. The cost varies, it depends on the weight of the diamond, you should be able to find details on their web site.

      I find there to be a wide variance in the cut quality and proportions of the diamonds offered by Tiffany and most jewelry stores, so be sure to ask the sales representative for the proportions of the diamond. Assuming that you are looking for a round brilliant cut diamond, I recommend looking for one which meets my proportions criteria as outlined in the article 15 Seconds to Diamond Buying Success.

  3. Yikes, yea I don’t know that those two new hires have any idea what they’re up against. Eliminating the in house grading would be a really good first step and using either AGS or GIA, or both, would really aid them in the credibility area. But the biggest thing has GOT to be training. Maybe you need to be hired for that task.

    1. Somehow I don’t think that Tiffany & Co., is going to hire me to train their staff, but perhaps they could simply direct them to this web site? Required reading for new hires, ha, ha!

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