The Jewelry District, Episode 94: Tiffany’s Reopening, Watches and Wonders, Signet’s Investor Day


JCK editor-in-chief Victoria Gomelsky and news director Rob Bates discuss the much-anticipated reopening of Tiffany & Co.’s iconic Fifth Avenue store, now called the Landmark. Victoria also reports on her recent trip to Geneva for the Watches and Wonders show, where traffic was brisk, the mood was upbeat, and Rolex wowed the crowds with unexpected splashes of color and whimsy. Rob updates listeners on what’s new at Signet Jewelers after attending a recent investor day at the New York Stock Exchange.

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Sponsored by De Beers: institute.debeers.com

Show Notes
00:49 Tiffany & Co. Reimagines Its Famous Flagship
05:30 Rob Heads to AGS Conclave to Gauge the State of the Industry
07:10 Rolex Brightens a Busy Watches and Wonders Exhibition
15:18 What’s New at Signet Jewelers

Episode Credits
Hosts: Rob Bates and Victoria Gomelsky
Producer and engineer: Natalie Chomet
Plugs: @jckmagazineinstitute.debeers.com

Show Recap

Tiffany offers a sneak peek at its reimagined flagship
Victoria seldom flies across the country to attend a party, but she’s making an exception for the highly awaited reopening of Tiffany & Co.’s flagship Fifth Avenue store on May 27. After a three-year closure and a complete makeover, what will the Landmark—as it’s now called—look like? Rob remembers visiting the iconic store as a JCK mystery shopper and finding it surprisingly warm and welcoming. It was almost homey in those days, he says. Victoria predicts the new iteration will be decidedly sleeker and more luxe since the brand’s target demographic is now considerably more affluent.

“There’s a parallel story about the importance of brick-and-mortar,” Victoria observes. When she interviewed Tiffany CEO Anthony Ledru recently, he called the Landmark “the heart and soul of Tiffany.” The company is putting a major focus on its physical locations, expanding and renovating stores in Seoul, São Paulo, and other parts of the world, she adds. When the pandemic peaked, it looked like retail’s future might be entirely virtual and digital, but “that’s not the case at all,” Victoria says. “The importance of brick-and-mortar is more apparent than ever.”

Rob to moderate Conclave panel
Victoria’s not the only one with travel plans. In early May, Rob will head to Louisville, Ky., for the American Gem Society Conclave, where he’ll moderate an expert panel on how the industry is faring in 2023 and gauge the outlook for the future. Victoria is eager to hear his takeaways. She predicts JCK’s audience will be too. “It’s been a confusing year, with the lingering specter of recession,” she points out. “People are waiting for some guidance.”

Rolex brightens a busy Watches and Wonders
The conversation shifts to Victoria’s recent trip to Switzerland for Watches and Wonders in Geneva. This year’s bustling conference was a far cry from the quiet show of 2022, when quarantine kept Chinese buyers, retailers, and press away. “It felt upbeat and buzzy” in spite of the logistical frustrations inevitable in a crowded convention center, she says.

The optimism surprised Victoria, who expected the drop in secondary watch prices after last spring’s crypto collapse to put a damper on people’s moods. Instead she found an enthusiastic crowd and a robust array of new offerings. The most talked-about were whimsical, colorful watches from Rolex, a new direction for the brand. One featured a dial with balloons in a rainbow of colors. Another was an off-catalog model with 31 emojis and seven inspirational words like “love” and “faith” instead of dates and days of the week. Victoria says this is the first time she has seen Rolex introduce a concept piece, and despite some hate from internet trolls, show attendees loved the fresh, vivid newcomers. She gives the company kudos for its innovative pieces that break through some sameness in the category.

Rob asks about Rolex’s new certified pre-owned program. Victoria says people still aren’t sure how it will work, but she thinks secondhand dealers are likely diversifying and refocusing on other brands because they may not be able to compete with Rolex’s proprietary program.

Signet focuses on affordable luxury
Turning their attention back to the U.S., Rob reports on Signet Jewelers’ investor day, which he attended last week at the New York Stock Exchange. He was impressed by Signet’s executive team—and the fact that the majority of its members are female. “Five or six years ago, it would be all men and one woman,” he notes. “It’s a very, very different company than before CEO Gina Drosos came in,” one he believes is in very capable hands.

Signet is focusing on expanding its “accessible luxury” offerings, though Victoria notes that the term is highly subjective. In Signet’s case, Rob expects it will mean higher price points. The company also plans to expand its bridal offerings and attract more female shoppers, a goal that may pose challenges for Signet’s traditionally male-focused brands like Jared, James Allen, Blue Nile, and Diamonds Direct, Rob says. These four companies were once competitors, so finding their place in the Signet family  may take some time, Rob predicts.

Signet also reported that engagements are expected to return to normal levels now that the boom is subsiding. Rob points out that Signet has become the go-to source for market statistics, and he and Victoria agree such data is extremely valuable for the industry.

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By: Kathy Passero

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