Tiffany Diamonds Shine for Offshore Shoppers

Last Updated Mar 26, 2008 5:40 PM EDT

Every year, Tiffany & Co. makes best friends with a lot of diamond-loving girls. Last year, many of those girls were either European or Asian, as foreign tourists accounted for 14 percent of sales at Tiffany's 70 stateside stores. The legendary jeweler saw sales rise to $2.94 billion in fiscal 2007.

The New York flagship sold $300 million in baubles, but investor relations VP Mark Aaron noted on a conference call that a 10 percent increase in fourth quarter comps in Manhattan "entirely reflected higher foreign tourist spending." European shoppers spent their Euros in New York, Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco, while Japanese tourists patronized Tiffany's four boutiques in Hawaii. Outside of New York, its five top U.S. stores in 2007 were South Coast Plaza in Orange County, Calif.; San Francisco; Chicago; Beverly Hills; and at the Bellagio in Vegas.

Tiffany & Co.'s newest store opened March 17 in Chengdu, China, the capital of Sichuan. It's Tiffany's seventh store in the People's Republic. International sales at stores from Cairo to Kazakhstan accounted for $422.6 million.

Sales were soft in sterling silver under $500, but strong in diamonds and "statement jewelry" items that cost $50,000-plus. Tiffany's website accounted for $150 million; its average sale is only $233, but it also serves as an effective marketing communications vector, Aaron said. The most outrageous piece on is a 75-carat necklace of yellow and white emerald-cut diamonds set in platinum. At $1.25 million, its statement is, "I know a very rich person."

  • Lisa Everitt

    A Denver-based business writer, Lisa Everitt is a veteran of daily and weekly newspapers and trade magazines, including The Natural Foods Merchandiser, Rocky Mountain News, Inter@ctive Week, San Francisco Business Times, and the Peninsula Times Tribune.