We're taking a little break from our bi-annual Fashion Week coverage because it's been so long since Alex Kuczynski has given us much to say. Today in Thursday Styles The Critical Shopper visits that most iconic of stores, Tiffany & Co. It may be one of the most famous stores in the world, aspirational to millions, and yet commonplace to others who see its fame as indicative of a lack of exclusivity. In fact its main floor is one of the great shopping tourist attraction in the city making it impenetrable during weekends and Holiday seasons, a place most New Yorkers would go out of their way to avoid. Tiffany presents a paradox of sorts, selling thousands of engagement rings a year, while savvy shoppers know that larger equal quality diamonds can be had for far better prices in any number of outlets. The premium price is for the little blue box that is essentially worthless, but invaluable to so many. But we aren't going to dissect Tiffany here, this is about Alex, and this week she once again tells a tale of scatterbrained idiocy,
...the best test, I thought, would be to see if an earring I left there for repair in 2002 was still at the store.
So much time had passed that Tiffany’s customer service department has moved to another floor. It had been so long that people I know have met, gotten engaged (with that little blue box), married, had a child and already divorced. It had been so long that I had lost all the paperwork stating my ownership of the earring.
On a Sunday afternoon last month, I sat waiting in the confessional-like carrels of the service department, expecting to be told that the small Schlumberger turquoise earring (a gift) had long been remanded to the bad, anonymous place where all unclaimed repaired earrings go. But after five minutes of gentle tapping at her computer, the attendant summoned me. It had been sent to an outlying warehouse, but they had it.
Here's the question: Who forgets to pick up a Schlumberger earring for five years? If there's anything exclusive and luxurious about Tiffany, it the Jean Schlumberger collection, which warrants its own private salon, set off from the bustle of the rest of the store. It is not jewelry one loses track of, and a fine jeweler doesn't just toss away unclaimed repairs like a dry cleaner that loses your pants. It is unlikely that many people (or any people, really) just forget about precious jewels they have sent for repair, but Alex is not just any person. Don't ever change, baby.
Critical Shopper: A Story in Every Box (NYTimes)
Tiffany & Co. 727 Fifth Avenue, Midtown