Bling is king, when you consider how the jewelry biz is big news these days. The latest to try to profit from that trend is Tiffany
Tiffany, home of the special signature blue box, is one heck of a company, having first hit the scene in 1837. Its appeal has continued for nearly two centuries, as can be attested to by recent earnings reports and the company's fascinating historical timeline.
As hinted at above, it's a good time for sparkle. Yesterday, Zale
So, it's easy to see why Tiffany might decide to expand its horizons at this time. The company said it believes the pearl market is an underdeveloped one, and it plans to apply its "highly efficient operational infrastructure" to this new market.
I can buy that the market is underdeveloped. Though pearls once conveyed status, the gem of the sea may have lost some of its luster over recent times. To my way of thinking, pearls as an essential accessory bring to mind debutante balls, bridge clubs, and a look where the dress, shoes, handbag, and hat all coordinate. Not that pearls are totally out of today's fashion loop. Faux pearls have a funky appeal, but whether the high-end version will resonate with today's consumer as much as Tiffany's current product line is an interesting question.
And what about those price points? Iridesse's pearls will be available in the $100 to $40,000 range, and the first of two debut stores will be in McLean, Va. (just a hop, a skip, and a traffic-jammed jump from Fool HQ). While Tiffany is known for its premium prices, it has worked hard to appeal to a widening demographic with less expensive, gift-worthy merchandise, including silver jewelry. I also question isolating the strong Tiffany name from the concept. One of Tiffany's major selling points is that distinctive blue box.
Tiffany will shell out big to launch a new concept and a new brand. Given Tiffany's powers to seduce, if anyone can do it, it's Tiffany. Down the road, investors may celebrate this move as pearls of wisdom. Let's just hope they're not casting pearls before swine.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Diamonds aren't her best friend, but they are her birthstone.