Tiffany & Co is a leading American based jewelry and gift company with stores in major cities around the world. The company is commonly called Tiffany or Tiffany's and is strongly associated with it's trademarked robin egg blue called Tiffany Blue.   It is an integrated retail-manufacturing operation, though Tiffany's does outsource much of what it sells.  

Founding of Tiffany & Co

Tiffany & Co was founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany (February 15, 1812 – February 18, 1902) and a schiool friend John B. Young in New York City. The first store at 259 Broadway St opened as a "stationary and fancy goods emporium" focused on premium gifts and stationary, but once Tiffany bought out his partner he refocused the business on jewelry.  He also changed the store name to the current name in 1853 after Young retired.

Tiffany married his business partner's sister in 1839 and they had 6 children.

Charles son, Louis Comfort Tiffany, had some involvement in the jewelry business as a design director after his father's death, but was much more famous for his own decorative glass lamp and window businesses (Tiffany lamps, Tiffany glass) that did not form part of the jewelry business.

Charles Tiffany was a brilliant jeweler and businessman who created the strong brand that still bears his name today. By time he died he was worth almost 1:600th of the entire US GDP, in other words he was impressively wealthy. 

Industry Pioneering Steps & Significant Projects

Significant accomplishments include:

  • creation of the country's first retail catalog (which continues to be published today),Tiffany Cross Metal of HonorCredit: wikipedia
  • The firm acquired and sold some of the French crown jewels in 1887
  • Tiffany  introduced the English standard of sterling silver to the US jewelry industry in 1851
  • Involved in redesign of the Great Seal of the United States
  • Designed a version of the Metal of Honor for the US Navy known as the Tiffany Cross

Charles Tiffany embraced the philosophy “good design is good business,” but he quickly figured out publicity was good for business, too.

With the fall of Louis Philippe’s regime in the 1840s, French aristocrats fleeing the political turmoil were eager to exchange their diamonds for cash. Charles Tiffany saw a golden buying opportunity and risked the profits of his fledgling enterprise on a cache of splendid diamonds, marking the first appearance of major gemstones in the U.S. The press crowned Charles Tiffany “King of Diamonds.” 

Tiffany masterminded a second publicity coup in 1858 by buying 20 miles of extra cable from the Atlantic Telegraph Cable project. Tiffany cut the 20 miles of cable into four-inch lengths finished with brass. Other parts were made into paperweights, canes, umbrella handles and watch charms. When Tiffany put the cable pieces on sale the police had to be called to control the crowds clamoring for a piece of history.

Super Bowl TrophyCredit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

During a lunch with NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle in 1967, Tiffany & Co. vice president Oscar Riedner made a sketch on a cocktail napkin of what would become the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Unlike many senior trophies that are passed from team to team, a new Super Bowl Trophy is exclusively handcrafted by Tiffany & Co. in Parsippany, New Jersey each year.

Current Operation Size of Tiffany's

Tiffany's headquarters are located at 727 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10022. The 727 Fifth Ave building constructed in 1940 houses its flagship store (45,500 square feet) with the balance of the 124,000 square foot building devoted to administrative offices, certain product services, jewelry manufacturing and storage.

At January 31, 2011, the Company operated in The United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and across major European cities:

=>96 TIFFANY & CO. stores in the Americas with a total area of approximately 644,000 gross square feet and 51% of sales.

=>52 stores in the Asia-Pacific region with a total area of approximately 129,000 gross square feet and 18% of sales,

=>56 stores in Japan with a total area of approximately 147,000 sq.ft. and 18% of sales, and

=>29 stores in Europe with total area of approximately 108,000 gross square feet and 12% of sales.

=>Online stores targeted at various markets

For 2010, Tiffany's reports that jewelry represented approximately 91% of Tiffany's net sales, with timepieces, tableware and all other categories aggregating 9% of total sales.  The flagship New York City store generates about 8% of total system sales. The 128.54 carats (25.71 g) Fancy Yellow Tiffany Diamond is usually on display in the New York City flagship store.Tiffany Diamond bird on a rock settingCredit: Wikipedia Creative Commons

History as a Public Company

The current corporate structure was created in 1984 with the incorporation of a Tiffany & Co as a Delaware holding company.  The Company's initial public offering occurred on May 5, 1987 at a price of $23.00 per share (that equals $1.916 per share when adjusted for four subsequent stock splits).  The Company's Common Stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange with the symbol TIF.  TIF is part of the S&P 500 Index.

How to Buy Tiffany Stock (TIF)

Broker:  If you want a larger amount of Tiffany stock (a board lot or more) and plan to trade the stock actively than purchasing through a full service or discount broker makes the most sense.  The disadvantage is that most of the time the shares are held in street name and you are not therefore the registered shareholder and can not participate in the dividend reinvestment program or buy additional shares with incremental investments.

Direct:  The Bank of New York Mellon is the sponsor of the BuyDIRECT(sm) Program, which allows contributors to purchase Tiffany & Co. shares with cash contributions. BNY Mellon takes the cash contributions and makes market purchases.  The nice thing is that instead of having to buy a 100 share board lot you can buy a set dollar amount - like $1000 - you choose regardless of the actual stock price.  The BuyDIRECT program will credit it for full and partial shares. The program's features also include dividend reinvestment.  For additional information, contact BNY Mellon Shareowner Services at 888-778-1307 or 201-680-6578 

Tiffany & Co stock certificate in Tiffany BlueCredit:

Regardless of how one becomes a registered Tiffany & Co shareholder, there are certain benefits. Tiffany's generally pays dividends (25 cents a share since 2010).  Shareholders may attend the company's Annual General Meeting in New York City typically on the third Thursday in May.  Stockholders also receive collectible annual reports from Tiffany's.