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Cocktails at Tiffany’s: My Night at the Biggest Jewelry Party of the Year


I’ve just returned home to Los Angeles, after traveling to New York for the sole purpose of attending the Tiffany & Co. reopening party on Thursday night.

The first clue that I was headed to one helluva shindig came last Tuesday, when my family returned from a weekend visit to Mexico City to find a delivery van parked in our driveway. The driver, who’d been told we’d be pulling in after midnight, was fast asleep in the front seat.

After I awakened him, he grabbed a bag in Tiffany’s unmistakable shade of robin’s-egg blue from the passenger seat. “You must be a very important person,” he said as he handed it to me.

Inside, a personalized invitation spelled out the details: Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, Tiffany’s parent company (and the richest man in the world, according to Forbes), was inviting me to celebrate the reopening of the Landmark, the jeweler’s New York City flagship, at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. The party was taking place on the eve of the store’s official reopening on Friday.

Arnault family Credit BFA Joe Schildhorn
Bernard Arnault (second from left) and family (photo credit: BFA/Joe Schildhorn)

When I arrived at the Landmark, throngs of onlookers were pressed against the barricades across the street, quite likely squinting their eyes to see if I was a somebody.

Paloma Picasso Credit BFA David Benthal
Paloma Picasso (photo credit: BFA/David Benthal)

I glided through the revolving doors beneath the Atlas statue clock right on the heels of Paloma Picasso, the immaculately coiffed Tiffany collaborator whose designs are featured in a dedicated display upstairs. She paused near the entrance long enough for me to admire her silk kimono printed with a Japanese-style tableau: birds alighting on branches of cherry blossoms. It was easy to imagine that even the daughter of the 20th century’s most lauded artist was stunned by the opulence of the ground floor, aka “The World of Tiffany.”

Nearly four years in the making, the store’s renovated interior—all 100,000-plus square feet of it—may well be the world’s most glamorous temple to jewelry. JCK news director Rob Bates did a fine job of summarizing the details that went into the brand’s first “holistic renovation” since 1940, including digitized immersive installations, 4,090 light fixtures, and 40 artworks by the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Julian Schnabel, and Daniel Arsham.

I, on the other hand, am here to tell you about the scene.

Marc Jacobs Pharrell Credit BFA Joe Schildhorn
Marc Jacobs and Pharrell (photo credit: BFA/Joe Schildhorn)
Anthony Ledru Florence Pugh
Anthony Ledru and Florence Pugh (photo credit: BFA/Joe Schildhorn)

And by scene, I don’t mean the 80-plus celebrities in attendance—though the famous-face spotting was, indeed, epic. Mayor Eric Adams was a guest, as were film director Baz Luhrmann, artist Jeff Koons, designer Marc Jacobs, Martha needs-no-introduction Stewart, and dozens of actors and musicians, including Gal Gadot, Hailey Bieber, Pharrell, Anya Taylor-Joy, Florence Pugh, Zoë Kravitz, Blake Lively, Mark Wahlberg, and Tiffany Haddish.

One of the first guests who caught my eye was a beautifully put-together Asian woman dressed entirely in white. Against the backdrop of her leather vest, crinoline skirt, and Dior handbag, it was impossible to ignore the Patek Philippe Tiffany Blue Nautilus on her left wrist. (When it was introduced in December 2021, the limited-edition timepiece retailed for $52,635; the current secondary-market price hovers around $3 million.)

I turned to take in the lavishness of the room and spotted Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany’s beloved former CEO, who served in the role from 1999 to 2015. As he posed for photos with the current CEO, Anthony Ledru, I couldn’t help but wonder what Kowalski made of the new (and improved?) Tiffany.

Last November, when I interviewed Ledru over a video call for a New York Times story about the growth of the branded jewelry sector, he was candid, gracious, and undeniably clear about the brand’s repositioning under LVMH, which acquired Tiffany in early 2021 for $16 billion.

“This year has been really focused on product elevation,” Ledru told me. “One reason we’ve been growing fast is we went quite big on high jewelry.”

“When we completed the acquisition, we never thought the high jewelry business at Tiffany in 2022 would be on par with our silver business,” Ledru said. “We multiplied by five the high jewelry activity since we took over. And the focus has been on Jean Schlumberger, the designer who joined Tiffany in the ’60s. He’s a bridge between old world and new world. It is the ultimate signifier of what Tiffany stands for. I believe it is our style.”

If the designer’s iconic Bird on a Rock brooch comes to mind, you’re spot-on. According to Ledru, the piece is at the heart of Tiffany’s high jewelry ambitions.

Tiffany birds on a rock
Jean Schlumberger’s Bird on a Rock brooches in 18k yellow gold with 58-plus ct. green tourmaline, diamonds, and pink sapphire (left) and in 18k yellow gold and platinum with 32-plus ct. morganite, diamonds, and pink sapphire

“It’s incredible the growth we enjoy,” he said, referring to sales of the brooch. “Bird on a Rock was only mounted on Tiffany legacy gemstones: tanzanite, tsavorite, morganite, and kunzite.

“Why would clients not want that on stones that were truly exceptional?” Ledru added. “We’ve done that for this year. We’ve had it on sapphires, on a very big morganite. This year we did it on white diamonds. Today we have close to six months of waiting time on that specific piece.”

As I wandered the floors of the reimagined Landmark, the focus on high-end clientele was palpable. Starting on the seventh floor—home to a Patek Philippe salon as well as a wide selection of Tiffany “Masterpieces,” including a $1.95 million Bird on a Rock brooch with a 7.91 ct. no-oil Colombian emerald and a $1.45 million diamond necklace centered on a 14.42 ct. oval Paraiba tourmaline from Brazil—I made my way down the sweeping curvilinear staircase to the themed floors beneath.

Lifestyle and home goods plus the Blue Box Café dominate floor 6. Here I spotted deluxe table tennis rackets, throw pillows, and plates, all decked out in Tiffany Blue. Throughout the room, re-creations of window displays designed by Gene Moore, Tiffany’s former artistic director, evoked the feeling of visiting a museum.

Silver designs occupy level 5, alongside a small but delightful “Audrey Experience,” featuring a replica of Audrey Hepburn’s black Givenchy dress from the opening scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (Speaking of Givenchy, which LVMH acquired in 1988, the Tiffany salespeople are all outfitted, right down to their shiny black loafers, in custom black Givenchy clothing embroidered with a blue Tiffany logo.)

The silver offerings still open at a relatively affordable $250, for a Return to Tiffany bracelet, but when I spoke to Ledru last year, he made clear that the old Tiffany, with its wide selection of accessibly priced silver jewels, was a thing of the past.

“We’re not discarding silver, but we wanted to start with first things first, which was all about the brand elevation and having a very clear message for our clients,” he told me.

When I arrived on floor 4, dedicated to “Gold & Diamond Icons,” including works by Picasso, Schlumberger, and Elsa Peretti, I got a very clear vision of the kind of clients Ledru had in mind. At a showcase of watches created specifically for the Landmark, I came across a well-heeled couple who appeared to be in their 70s. The husband was trying on a square-faced Union Square timepiece, while his wife, who wore her silvery hair in a shoulder-length straight bob, admired the accompanying bangles.

“Do you need another watch?” she asked him.

Later on, at the party space next door (the former Niketown site that became Tiffany’s temporary home in 2019), I spotted the woman and approached her to say hello. “Where do you live?” I asked her, practically screaming so she could hear me above the crowd.

“Here in New York, but we have four other homes,” she said.

“Where are you from?” I persisted.

“I’m from Hamburg,” she replied. “Where are you from?”

When she learned I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, it was clear from her reaction that she knew the city of the White Nights. “We have been there five or six times,” she said. “With Gergiev.”

She meant Valery Gergiev, “Russia’s most powerful classical musician,” as The New Yorker once described him. He was the longtime artistic and general director of St. Petersburg’s famed Mariinsky Theatre, and served as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic until his post was rescinded in 2022 when he refused to condemn the war against Ukraine.

Katy Perry Credit BFA Matteo Prandoni
Katy Perry performed at the after-party, held in the former Niketown space that Tiffany & Co. occupied for nearly four years, next door to the Landmark. (Photo credit: BFA/Matteo Prandoni).

Later, the Rockettes took the stage, followed in short order by Katy Perry, who delivered a spectacular performance that had the entire room singing along. And yet all I could think about was the privilege that surrounded me.

Woman Bird on Rock brooch
Woman in pink wearing a Bird on a Rock brooch (photo credit: BFA/Sansho Scott)

I glanced around, only to find a pretty blond woman in a short pink tweed dress standing to my right. On her left lapel, she wore a Bird on a Rock brooch, the bird perched on the biggest pink stone I had ever seen.

Top: A scene from Tiffany & Co.’s grand reopening party on April 27 taken at the entrance to the ground-floor “World of Tiffany” room (all photos courtesy of Tiffany & Co.)

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By: Victoria Gomelsky

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