A diamond is forever. So in our search for the secret elixir of longevity (think Built To Last, not Fountain of Youth), we may as well start there.
In fact, the inspiration for this search came from a diamond, the Tiffany Diamond Solitaire. Since before I could read the paper, Tiffany & Co has held the überprime ad space in the top righthand corner of page A3 of the New York Times – the first place your eyes landed when you turned the page after tearing yourself away from the headlines. The frontpage news had chewed you up. You were emotional, receptive, vulnerable, impressionable. Tiffany welcomed you.
Growing up, I seem to recall bracelets, earrings, necklaces. Gold, gemstones, even – god forbid – silver appeared in that perfect little rectangle of real estate. In the past few years, however, there has been a noticeable shift in strategy. A consolidation. A clear focus. On diamonds. Diamond engagement rings. Almost every day.
(It should be noted that we have not actually run the numbers and analyzed a 30-year history of which items have appeared in this ad – we leave that kind of stuff to the management consultants. All we can tell you is that we used to look forward to seeing what artisan creation, what tiny sculptural object would appear when we turned the page. Now we are bored.)
Of course in an economic downturn, buying anything at all at Tiffany’s might feel like an unnecessary luxury, let alone a high-ticket item like a diamond. Enter DeBeers.
Aha! Now that we have less money, we should buy more expensive stuff! Sheer marketing genius!
And it works. Tiffany & Co’s net income rose 30% last quarter on a 30% gain in revenue. Its stock is up about 16% since the beginning of the year. Roughly a third of Tiffany’s revenue comes from engagement and wedding jewelry, which financial analysts call "recession proof." People still buy pricey engagement and wedding rings even in a bad economy. Plus, while the less affluent generally pull back on spending in a recession, wealthier spenders tend to continue purchasing luxury goods – like diamonds – regardless.
So, you see, a diamond is forever.