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High Jewelry Is ‘Recession Proof,’ Tiffany & Co. CEO Says Ahead of 2024 Blue Book Launch in L.A.

Anthony Ledru talks Bird on a Rock success, celebrity marketing and West Coast expansion.

High Jewelry Is ‘Recession Proof,’ Tiffany & Co. CEO Says Ahead of 2024 Blue Book Launch in L.A.

Anya Taylor Joy wearing a Bird on a Rock necklace in a 2024 Tiffany & Co. high jewelry campaign.

Tiffany & Co. is betting big on big spenders.

The jeweler is unveiling its Céleste 2024 Blue Book collection of high jewelry in Los Angeles over the next three weeks, with the largest range to date at 157 pieces, the highest total retail price and the most star-studded premiere for the initiative, in addition to multiple client events at the famous Beverly Estate that was once home to William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies.

It’s all in service to a category that Tiffany chief executive officer Anthony Ledru is still bullish about despite the broader slowdown in the luxury sector, including at LVMH, where group sales fell 2 percent in the first quarter.

“The event itself is at a higher level than we’ve done in the past few years. The venue is larger, we didn’t put any restrictions on clients, the usual you need to qualify, but we’re going full speed with this because it’s the most recession proof,” he said. “The average price point is higher, there are masterpieces at $3 [million], $4 [million], $5 million…there are a lot of $1 [million] to $2 million pieces. We’ll see, the clients will tell us but we’re confident and we put everything we had into creating the dream.”

Since being acquired by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 2021, Tiffany & Co. has expanded its global high jewelry ambitions with an increasing number of experiential sales events for wealthy clients. Just weeks ago, the maison launched the “Tiffany Wonder” exhibition in Tokyo featuring hundreds of its masterworks. The L.A. Blue Book events starting this week will roll out 67 pieces of the collection, and the rest will be rolled out at subsequent events around the world.

High jewelry “is usually the category that is the most steady, because — let’s be clear — there’s a few aspirational high jewelry clients in some countries where the young population has purchase power, like Thailand and the Middle East, but in the majority of places, you don’t buy a lot of high jewelry at age 25 and 30,” he said of the economic and demographic factors at work.

The older population buying most high jewelry is largely “protected against inflation and slowdown,” he said. High jewelry is “the category that grew the most for us in the last three and a half years, and in the last few months, it’s the category that decreased the least. It’s not growing as fast as before, for sure, but the luxury business is not growing as fast, as you’ve seen with the Kering results, and even LVMH. It’s not double-digit growth, there’s a bit of a normalization.”

High Jewelry Is ‘Recession Proof,’ Tiffany & Co. CEO Says Ahead of 2024 Blue Book Launch in L.A.

A look at the Tiffany & Co. 2024 Blue Book collection.

Having the Blue Book debut in L.A. is a nod to the importance of the California market, second to New York in America, and to the celebrity marketing that has been a focus for Tiffany executive vice president for product and communications Alexandre Arnault.

Tiffany & Co., like all of LVMH’s brands, has signed an ever-growing number of famous faces and ambassadors in recent years, from Beyoncé and Jay-Z, to Rosé of Blackpink and Jimin of BTS — and they have the power to sell jewelry at all segments of the market.

“Tiffany is one of the greatest jewelers in the world, but also a cultural icon,” Ledru said. Celebrity “is something we believe in, it brings awareness, huge reach, it helps create trend. We created one: brooches — with Bird on a Rock — which is one of the icons of Tiffany created by Schlumberger,” he said, referring to the rise of the “bro-brooch,” as the New York Times put it, driven by Tiffany marketing to men via the lapels of Jeremy Allen White, Michael B. Jordan and Jay-Z on the red carpet.

High Jewelry Is ‘Recession Proof,’ Tiffany & Co. CEO Says Ahead of 2024 Blue Book Launch in L.A.

Jeremy Allen White wearing a Tiffany & Co. Bird on a Rock brooch at the 30th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles.

“It took it to another level of awareness and brought some coolness,” Ledru said.

There is no danger of overdoing it with celebrities “if the influencers and ambassadors you embrace are spot on with the DNA of the brand and stay with you for a while. There are some celebrities that go from one brand to another, and sometimes they go from jewelry to fashion and that’s OK; sometimes we share with sister companies. But what’s wrong and confusing is when one goes from one jewelry company to another. That’s not good for anybody,” he said.

“We have Anya [Taylor-Joy] who did the campaign for Bird on a Rock. She’s the Audrey Hepburn of 2024. She’s wearing the black dress.…We love that campaign and have seen a big increase in sales on the bird overall, because for the first time we communicated strictly for three or four months on high jewelry,” he said, noting the opening price point for the pieces is $100,000.

High Jewelry Is ‘Recession Proof,’ Tiffany & Co. CEO Says Ahead of 2024 Blue Book Launch in L.A.

Tiffany & Co. 2024 Bird on a Rock brooches.

“You just need continuity, consistency and alignment with the message you want to convey. She has some edge, which is Tiffany, but the whole campaign was about the 1960s in 2024, and she succeeded and the team succeeded.”

Celebrity isn’t the only trick in the Tiffany playbook, however.

The brand recently launched a new campaign that cast the jewelry as the star — “With Love, Since 1837” — focusing on the brand’s core Lock, T, Knot, HardWear, Sixteen Stone and Tiffany Setting, through the eyes of Gene Moore, who elevated window dressing to an art form during his tenure at Tiffany.

High Jewelry Is ‘Recession Proof,’ Tiffany & Co. CEO Says Ahead of 2024 Blue Book Launch in L.A.

Tiffany & Co. Sixteen Stone ring featured in the “With Love, Since 1837” campaign.

“The message was the product is the icon, the product is the hero, Gene Moore is the magician behind the campaign enhancing the product,” Ledru said. An influencer marketing campaign on social media featured Hollywood stylists Jeanne Yang, Ilaria Urbinati and others, who like Moore are magicians behind products, the products being celebrities.

In one way or another, the West Coast will continue to be a priority for the maison.

Tiffany & Co. celebrates its 60th anniversary on Rodeo Drive this year, and has plans to renovate and expand in the market, Ledru said. Last year, the Palo Alto store was renovated using inspiration from the New York flagship, with a facade by acclaimed architect Shigeru Ban.

“It’s doing very well, we’re brand number one in the [Stanford Shopping Center] over any other brand including our sister brand where I used to work, the number-one brand in the world,” Ledru said, referring to Louis Vuitton, where he was also an executive.

In 2025, the South Coast Plaza store will be redone, including a Tiffany Blue Box café, and there will be a rehaul of the Rodeo Drive store in the next two to four years. “It will be the Landmark of the West Coast,” he said, comparing it to the Fifth Avenue location that reopened in 2023 after a four year gut renovation. (It will not be opening at the Rodeo Drive property that was slated for the ill-fated Cheval Blanc hotel, however, he confirmed.)

“We believe there is still a lot of growth to happen for Tiffany,” Ledru said of North America’s prospects. “It’s the largest market, we’re not at maturity, there’s a big task in terms of renovation. We’ve seen what the Landmark brought to the table in terms of quantity and quality.…What we’re getting is people staying,” he explained of how bringing more storytelling to the retail stores is working, including the “Culture of Creativity” exhibition on Fifth Avenue, and the Art Deco digital screens in the newly relocated Miami Design District store.

“There are so many more we need to do, there has been a bit of an under investment in terms of renovations in stores for many years. We’re catching up — but we’re only doing it when the location is right.” Dallas Northpark will be next, he said, and Chicago and Toronto are also on the horizon. “We better believe in the U.S. because we were born in the U.S.”