BEIJING — The famed Tiffany Diamond made its China entrance on Friday, going on display in a country hungry for diamonds and eager to explore the company’s long-standing tradition of jewelry.
Before a preview of the exhibit, which features the 128.54-carat yellow Tiffany Diamond and dozens of other signature pieces, Michael Kowalski, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, discussed the importance of China’s burgeoning diamond and luxury market to Tiffany’s growth plans going forward.
Kowalski told WWD that the firm is targeting 10 to 12 percent annual sales growth globally in the coming years. China is a critical component of that mix.
“Clearly China will be one of our fastest-growing markets over the next five to 10 years so our sales objective for China would be in excess of that 12 percent corporate average,” said Kowalski.
Tiffany’s recent fourth-quarter sales results showed a 27 percent increase in the Asia-Pacific region, and though the company doesn’t break out sales figures in specific countries, Kowalski said China was a major driver in the rise.
“The company for so many years was primarily focused on the U.S. domestic market and we really began our aggressive international expansion 10 years ago,” he explained.
“So we were very deliberate in our approach to the China market, and perhaps came to the market a little bit late compared to some of our luxury competitors.”
The company invested heavily in brand education, keying on the Tiffany history and heritage, and has found success with China’s new luxury consumer class. Up until about a decade ago, diamond engagement rings were relatively rare in China.According to a recent market report from Euromonitor, China’s diamond consumption has tripled in recent years, making it second only to the U.S.
That hunger for diamonds, particularly in engagement rings, is evident in what Chinese customers want from Tiffany, Kowalski said. While diamonds account for half of the company’s sales globally, the percentage (which he did not disclose) is higher in China.
“Diamonds are probably relatively more important here to the Tiffany brand than they are anywhere in the world,” said Kowalski.
To capitalize on that demand, the company has brought its showpiece collection to the Chinese capital, starting with a small private viewing for select clients and celebrities at an exclusive club and boutique hotel. This is the first time the Tiffany Diamond has traveled to China and is being showcased in its new, 2012 setting, platinum and diamond necklace that was designed for the company’s 175th anniversary last year.
On Saturday, the famed gem and a range of Tiffany’s showcase pieces featured in a more open exhibition, which included an original musical score written for the event by renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun. Tan is famed for his film scoring, including those for the movies “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Hero.”
Following the weekend events, the diamond exhibit was due to move to the Tiffany & Co. flagship in Beijing through Jan. 5. The diamond is likely to be a hit, as Chinese consumers have been particularly drawn to yellow and other colored diamonds.
Kowalski said the event is part of the company’s effort to educate Chinese consumers about the history and legacy of the brand. Sales results show it’s working thus far, and Tiffany plans to expand in China at a deliberate pace.
The ceo said Tiffany will open three to four stores in mainland China each year for the foreseeable future, carefully choosing store locations — a decision he said can be the most important part of making a lasting presence.
When it entered the market in China, “there was a very general awareness of Tiffany,” said Kowalski. “Building depth around that awareness is something we’ve devoted a lot of effort to over the last three to five years.”
The next step will involve building more awareness of Tiffany beyond engagement rings — the company’s signature six-prong setting diamond engagement ring is its most popular product offering in China.
“I think there’s a natural evolution from the engagement business to diamonds used more broadly for gift-giving purposes,” he said.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty