Founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young in Brooklyn, Connecticut, as a “stationery and fancy goods emporium”, the store initially sold a wide variety of stationery items, and operated as “Tiffany, Young and Ellis” in Lower Manhattan. The name was shortened to Tiffany & Company in 1853, when Charles Tiffany took control and established the firm’s emphasis on jewelry.
The company has since opened stores in major cities all over the world. Unlike other stores at the time in the 1830s, Tiffany clearly marked the prices on its goods to forestall any haggling over prices. In addition, against the social norm at the time, Tiffany only accepted cash payments and did not allow purchases on credit. Such practices (fixed prices for ready money) were first introduced in 1750 by Palmer’s of London Bridge, who later employed the young Robert Owen, a social reformer.
The Tiffany & Co. Foundation was established in 2000 to provide grants to non-profit organizations working in the areas of the environment and the arts. In June 2004, Tiffany sued eBay, claiming that the latter was making profits from the sale of counterfeit Tiffany products; however, Tiffany lost both at trial and on appeal.
In 2009, a collaboration between the Japanese mobile-phone operator SoftBank and Tiffany & Co. was announced. The two companies designed a cellphone, limited to ten copies, and containing more than 400 diamonds, totaling more than 20 carats (4.0 g). Each cellphone cost more than 100 million yen (£781,824).
A media report in early July 2013 revealed that former Tiffany & Co. Vice President Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun had been arrested and charged with stealing more than $1.3 million of diamond bracelets, drop earrings, and other jewelry. According to prosecutors from Manhattan, the official charges filed against Lederhaas-Okun accused her of “wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property.”
In February 2017, the company announced that CEO Frédéric Cuménal was out of a job, effective immediately, after only 22 months, blaming weak sales results. He was replaced on an interim basis by the company’s long-time former CEO, Michael Kowalski.