Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jewelry: A rose by any other name

In honor of their 175th anniversary, Tiffany have, with much fanfare, launched the Rubedo line, made from an "entirely new metal alloy" which they say glows like gold, is malleable like silver, and is lightweight.

Much as I salivate over the quality of their stones (and a few of the designs), I'm leery of this marketing monkey business.

An element analysis conducted by Goldbuyers.com, a New York gold refinery, found that Rubedo was about 31 percent gold and nearly 55 percent copper, along with silver and a smidgen of zinc. In karats, that comes out to roughly a measly 7.5 percent.

The gold content is not specified nor offered by Tiffany. (For instance, a piece marked 14k is 58.5 percent pure gold; 18k is 75 percent.) Considering the material, you're paying a whopping premium to celebrate the brand's anniversary, which may be the reason why Tiffany have decided to clutter the pieces with hallmarks, creating a status billboard.



Rose gold is often combined with other golds or silver. Tiffany's entry is a 25-inch long interlocking circles necklace of rubedo and silver links. Undeniably a pretty, light piece, but worth $8 grand? 

Back to Beladora, where we find the eye-catching Italian chic of Pomellato    necklace with a jet charm. For twenty inches of 18k rose gold links, the price, $4,650, is better value than the Tiff trinket, and label girls can put Pomellato up against that T&Co any old time.


Rose gold has charmed for over a century, as shown by this Victorian Art Noveau rose gold locket with its ornate repoussé front and JR monogram. The price, $995 from Etsy seller aawsomblejewelry, is a smidge high but might be negotiable.



The richness of high-karat gold is indisputably beautiful, so I'd choose real rose gold, not plate. The Retro gold band below was probably once a wedding ring but could be worn as a handsome stacking piece today. Price, $395 from Beladora2; size 6 but easy to resize.

Before literally buying a brand's marketing campaign, head to a fine vintage jewelry shop or site like Beladora and do a little comparison. And if you fall in love with a unique piece there, so much the better.

(I receive no compensation or even kisses from any vendor featured here.)

16 comments:

Janice said...

Oh NO, a JR locket? It has to be mine...
Thanks for your insights into the Tiffany marketing blitz. As much as I admire some of their things, this one seemed a bit over the top!
big hug,
Janice

departmentofcolor said...

I am getting so annoyed at luxury brands that keep raising their prices and lowering quality. They are going to price themselves right out of business (and perhaps some of them already have!)

I live in a city full of artists and secondhand shops, so luckily I never have to look far for great jewelry.

Ms. M

kathy peck said...

Tiffany is a strange store to me. I always wonder if anyone really buys engagement rings, or other really expensive jewelry there? I feel like they've "made their name" and now just capitalize on that - making a bunch of stuff that has their name on it, and is reasonably affordable? And of course, the blue box.

déjà pseu said...

Tiffany has always left me rather "meh." I agree, the pieces at Beladora are much more unique and a much better jewelry buy!

Wendy said...

Your blog is an education and an enjoyable one at that! Thank you.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

I have a few skinny Tiffany bangles and I think their store was romanticized by the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's...
I have seen many couples buying engagement rings in the shop when we were in Vancouver on holiday.

I do love vintage jewelry too and have a few treasures in my collection.
My local jeweler friend is very skilled at his craft and he has set and reset quite a few of my diamonds

I think pieces that have been handed down through the family are the best gifts!

LPC said...

Rose gold is definitely having a moment. What will Tiffany's do when the trend moves on? I have been seeing these ads and feeling the same concerns you express so well here.

Duchesse said...

Janice: I'd buy it too, but also buy old pieces with others' initials.

departmentofcolor: Their access to superb materials means they can create some breathtaking pieces. But they are also making some ghastly lower-end lines.

kathy peck: They do a very good business in ERs (and are among the big brands investing in Canadian diamond mines). I don't know how the lower-end goods sell but the two Toronto stores were always crowded.

pseu: I have Tiffany diamond studs that you can see from across a room. They were a gift; I would not have paid the brand premium.

Wendy: Thanks; that's the purpose and I'm glad it is serving you.

hostess: I agree, given that the pieces handed down are to one's taste. Though I dislike pulling apart sentimental pieces for the stones, I did it, and though the new piece is pleasing, I kept the old mounts. It just felt wrong to scrap that history.

Duchesse said...

LPC: They will discontinue it. Notice it is marketed to celebrate the 175th anniversary- so once that's over they can pull it with no fanfare.

Jill Ann said...

I will never understand why people want to wear obvious logos on anything...clothing, jewelry, etc. i like some of the Tiffany pieces but would never wear one with their name all over it!

rb said...

Oh, I'm disappointed to hear this. I have loved rose gold my whole life (I mean, c'mon, my name is Rose), and now Tiffany is going to Tiffany-stamp the whole enterprise. It just seems yucky to me.

Duchesse said...

Jill Ann: There seem to be two Tiffanys, one of refined classics and one of logo'd brand-land. The "Return to Tiffany" line makes me wonder... if you lose your jewelry do you think it will be returned to the store?

rb: Not to worry, Tiffany don't call Rubedo "rose gold" anywhere- and cannot, as the gold content is so low.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...at an ethnic shop in the '70s I bought a choker, a sort of hollow torque, made of some mystery metal. It polished up nicely with a silver cloth, but glowed with a rosy golden glow: proto-Rubedo? Anyway, it looked great over a black cashmere turtleneck, and probably cost less than $10.

The only Tiffany piece I own is an exquisite little antique preserve fork, hand-wrought in the "Japonaise" style, and washed with gold. It was a $5 thrift-shop find requiring a jeweler's loupe to read the tiny TIFFANY & CO. stamp. I guess we can't blame Tiffany for wanting to trade vigorously on their brand these days, but that doesn't mean we need to buy into it!

Those vintage pieces are so much prettier...

C.

Duchesse said...

C.: Tiffany silver cutlery and tableware continue to be beautiful, though the trend has shifted from the ornate to sleeker
patterns. I have to give them their due, but wish they had not cluttered their brand with logos and low-end production pieces.

Mardel said...

I love rose gold and it looks lovely with the pink tones in my skin, but this ploy does not appeal at all. I don't think Tiffany has been doing themselves any favors.

Mardel said...
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