02 Jan2008

tiff3

Anyone who has seen Holly Golightly perusing the stunning store display windows in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” knows exactly what this means… Audrey Hepburn (or at least her character) was no fool. Window shopping doesn’t cost you anything, after all. And it’s better to daydream on 5th or Madison Avenue than sulk at home, in my opinion. So this is a “elitist fishpan” warning of the worst sort. If features on frivolity and non-essentials in life get your goat, skip a LOT of the posts from our recent trip to New York over Christmas, coming up in the next week or so. You have been forewarned.

tiff4

We arrived in New York City late on the 23rd of December, in relatively warmish winter weather, with nasty rainstorms, and following one of the roughest landing approaches we have ever experienced in a commercial jet. We slept off the 24+ hour trip and tail end turbulence and rose surprisingly late the next morning, Christmas Eve. We decided to go for a nice long walk down Madison Avenue to one of my favorite intersections in New York during the Christmas holidays… 57th Street and 5th Avenue. The main holiday attraction for most tourists might be the giant suspended snowflake (fabulously alight at night), but the window shopping on the walk down and at this intersection is pretty good as well. With the new modern multi-story Louis Vuitton shop occupying one prime corner, Bulgari another, Van Cleef & Arpels/Bergdorf Goodman yet another corner and, finally, Tiffany & Company, these are all purveyors of what you might call the luxuries in life…

tiff1

The Kid (face blurred on purpose), rather chic-ly dressed, I might add (Holly would approve), took a few moments to peruse the stunning windows and we plunged into Tiffany & Company at the height of the Christmas Eve shopping madness… Those familiar with the store know that you should take a hard left upon entering the main doors of the shop, and use either of two discreet elevators, to avoid the thousands of folks who head for the larger elevators at the back of the main floor. No, we weren’t at Tiffany’s to purchase some extravagant 15th anniversary presents, I had a mission on the 6th floor. After 15 years of cooking and eating well, I have gained a good 30+ pounds since we purchased our gold wedding bands and mine was now so tight I could barely remove it. After consulting with a service associate, Tiffany’s graciously agreed to increase the size of my ring, then clean it, and do all of this in just 2 days time, ready for pick-up before our 15th anniversary. And all for just $75. The ring fits much more comfortably now, and it looks terrific, almost as though it has been re-dipped in gold and buffed! Talk about golden facelifts…

tiff2

On our way down, we looked at some of the jewelry and doodads and noticed that the men’s wedding band, a 4mm gold band in 18k gold, with fine milgrain design on the outer edges, NOW retails for some $600, up about 50% from 15 years ago. And if you think that is a luxury, I have worn my ring nearly every single day for 15 years and the cost per day, assuming zero value today (which is untrue), was just 8 cents or 3 pesos per day, or the equivalent of a few dopey text messages or even less than the price of a package of instant noodles. It is “cheaper” than the daily depreciation on most cell phones, a gulp of Diet Coke or a large pan de sal… So the Marketman moral of the story? Sometimes the luxurious option is actually the most economical way to go…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Silly Lolo says:

    Sounds like the beginnings of a wonderful time and perhaps a few interesting posts. Good on you and your family, MM! Live the good life, that’s what it is for.

    Jan 2, 2008 | 10:56 pm

     
  2. Dea says:

    Hmmm, $600 is not too bad for a Tiffany wedding band. We still have a few years to save for ours. :D

    Jan 2, 2008 | 11:19 pm

     
  3. edel says:

    carpe diem, MM =)

    Jan 2, 2008 | 11:58 pm

     
  4. Mandy says:

    My husband and I got for him a Tiffany wedding band too, a 2mm Lucida platinum. I don’t believe in scrimping for a wedding band. It is one item that you wear everyday for many, many years. Plus the fact that it represents your marriage to your partner. :) Congrats on your 15 years together with Mrs. MM.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 12:23 am

     
  5. Andrei says:

    FISHPAN!!! FISHPAN!!! FISHPAN!!!

    harharhar I’m soooo kidding, Marketman :P

    but hey, $600 for a Tiffany wedding band? Not bad, considering it is a Tiffany item after all.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 1:38 am

     
  6. Gigi says:

    The value of choosing Tiffany is that you get more than jewelry. What you have is a steward to the precious memory that you have chosen to mark. Your wedding to the love of your life that brought forth another love in your life, the kid makes the Tiffany ring priceless. Blessed Anniversary, MM and Mrs. MM!

    Sidebar comment lang — What I am bothered by these days is the way that owning a Louis Vuitton is nearing what I call the “lechon manok/Zagu” tipping point. I’m seeing every other girl in Metro Manila sporting an LV particularly the Speedy (doctor’s bag style) and you can’t tell the diff between what’s real and fake … People are acquiring material things but not memories. It’s also a case when the essence of luxury is diluted. What’s the cachet of owning a luxury item that has been so commoditized? Tragic!

    Jan 3, 2008 | 2:24 am

     
  7. Marketman says:

    Gigi, I couldn’t agree with you more. And well said. On the LV front, I too, wonder how much is real vs. fake. But in the end, folks are living a personal dream or desire somehow, whether genuine or counterfeit. We used to know the manager of LV in Manila and she said that the day after Christmas several ladies used to come to exchange “bags” but they turned out to be fakes. Not only did they find out they had counterfeit items, the store had to confiscate them!

    The lady in front of us at U.S. customs was nailed with about 15 fake designer bags from the greenhills tiangge, complete with fake cover bags. She was a blonde American and freaked out by customs… they nearly charged her several thousand dollars in duty (calculated on the value of the original items, not their fakes) and made her sweat bricks, and under the law could have destroyed ALL of the counterfeit items, but they gave her a chance and let her off the hook… It was an instrumental moment for us. Thankfully, I mostly worried that I had half a suitcase full of homemade mangosteen jam… but that is pretty “pasteurized” and it made it in okay… :)

    Jan 3, 2008 | 4:00 am

     
  8. smiles4angels says:

    It really is the value we put on what we buy. Not the price per se but the memories attached to the things we buy. We take care of things we value most… and at least for me I really keep the gifts and the things I really had a hard time (having to save money or having a difficult time finding the item etc) “acquiring”.

    Happy Anniversary!

    Jan 3, 2008 | 5:47 am

     
  9. Madeline says:

    It is nice to travel vicariously with your family. We feel as if we are also in New York! My friend said that even if you had been in the US but hadnt been in New York, it is like not being in the US.
    The most important thing about travelling is that you are with your family. It is so hard to travel alone by yourself. Winter depression is very common. I had seen this during my stay in California. I guess that the incidence in New York is pretty higher.
    I was surprised on how people despite warnings about fake branded items still manage to bring along these things. I had seen alot of fake bags given to friends in California as “pasalubongs.”
    For those going to take the exams in the US. Be dont bring xerox copies of books or fake cds. The Americans are very particular with this! I had brought all original books and cds during my trip and exam in 2005. Luckily, I passed my exam in San Francisco.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 6:28 am

     
  10. dhayL says:

    Welcome back and Happy New Year!

    I definitely agree on “occasional splurging” whether it’s a nice piece of outfit, branded bags and shoes, and of course jewellery pieces, these are timeless pieces and you know that you’ll get your money’s worth overtime. Yes, we’re paying for the name, but comes with the name is a high-end quality as well! My mother doesn’t own branded clothes and shoes, but she splurge on fine piece of jewellery, knowing that she can pass it on from generation to generation!

    About your customs story, oh that’s pretty scary and embarrassing, she should’ve known better, especially in the recent years, where there has been a major cracked down on counterfeit items. I think US customs are more strict that Canadian customs, that’s why we always avoid connecting to any US states when flying back home, hehehe

    Jan 3, 2008 | 7:02 am

     
  11. gemma says:

    hey marketman,

    i read this post earlier today at work (57th and 7th)!! just a stone’s throw away from where you were… i’ve only been at tiffany’s once to shop for a wedding ring but we ended buying the rings at a small store in park slope, brooklyn. i’m still waiting for that tiffany solitaire engagement ring although i’m now happily married… maybe after grad school (sigh).

    it snowed early this morning so i hope you got your winter fix. have fun in the city.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 7:34 am

     
  12. Ted says:

    Talking about LV, when we had a family vacation in Hawaii, i accompanied my wife to the LV shop at the Waikiki store and told my wife she can get her speedy bag she’d always wanted since it was 10% cheaper there than in the mainland coupled with only 4.5% sales tax. She was treated with all the care and attention by the clerk, and imagine each one of these clerks are wearing white gloves and was very attentive to all her questions and for every purse she wanted to see or try on, before it was given to her, the clerk would either make sure the zipper is working well, or there are no creases or what not, all the while im watching all these and was pretty amazed at all these attention my wife was getting. After all is paid for and the purse was painstakingly wrapped, the clerk asked my wife if she’s going to keep on shopping at the store and when the wife said no, the clerk escorted us with the purchase in her hand and once we were at the lobby, handed my wife the shopping bag and courteously greeted us adieu with a bow (Japanese style). Just the experience alone was quite memorable to both of us. That really made me think, i wish i was really really Rich ;-)

    Jan 3, 2008 | 8:19 am

     
  13. dhayL says:

    Ted,
    I’m sure she was very happy with the experience and ofcourse owning an LV bag! :) Hhmmm I wonder when would my husband take me to an LV store too? I don’t own an LV bag, and I’ve said it before that it’s okay to splurge on these kind of big purchase coz they’re an investments, but I still find it too expensive, hehehe, speically nowadays, there are so many imitations out in the street, and some are pretty close to the original, it’s such a shame that the bootlegs are all over the market. I remember my first purchase of Coach bag, I sort of kept it and only use it for special occasions, but then I said to myself, what the heck, might as well use it everyday, I didn’t pay that much just for it to collect dust!

    Jan 3, 2008 | 9:22 am

     
  14. Blaise says:

    Wow, I just totally love that whole Math idea (computations of depreciation and all)..

    Have a great vacation MM and family! =)

    Jan 3, 2008 | 9:49 am

     
  15. anonymous paul says:

    i always tell my clients that purchasing jewelry is an investment in their selves or in their relationships. i try to keep them away from the usual thinking of its precious materials’ appreciation or how much can they sell it later on, etc… we buy jewelry for different reasons; primarily to celebrate. so MM, that’s a great way of putting it (AND proving it!) in numbers…that at the rate of JUST 15 years (i’m assuming your marriage will keep going strong), the cost per day of wearing a wedding band is immaterial in the light of your relationship. congratulations!

    Jan 3, 2008 | 10:54 am

     
  16. fried-neurons says:

    My personal philosophy regarding luxury brands: I never buy fakes. If I can’t afford the real thing, I’ll buy something else. In the end, niloloko mo lang ang sarili mo if you buy counterfeit.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 11:11 am

     
  17. Chunky says:

    a $600 Tiffany wedding ring is a definite good buy…unfortunately, for us…we cannot afford it. but, given the chance, i will not bat an eye to get one. by the way, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is my most fave movie. The kid looked chic alright…and seems to be enjoying every moment of it.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 11:15 am

     
  18. michelle says:

    Hey MM! I got a lovely Tiffany present this Christmas too. A lovely something by the iconic Jean Schlumberger. To remind me of my hubby. And an oval silver locket with the pics of my little boys. Very sweet.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 11:55 am

     
  19. mariapia says:

    I share fried-neurons’ philosophy. I don’t buy fakes, too, and would rather purchase something nice but not branded if I can’t afford the real thing.

    Ted, I envy your LV experience with your wife. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been given LVs as presents or in some cases, “pamana” items, since my mom-in-law is a serious bagaholic with no daughter. However, I’ve never actually gone to their shop to purchase an item for myself. I know hubby reads your blog, too, MM, so, ehem – hint, hint!

    Lastly, in addition to Madeline’s warning about books and CDs, I know of one occasion where a notebook was randomly requested to be booted up and customs determined the Microsoft software installed on it was fake. The gentleman was fined, though I’m not sure if his notebook was confiscated. If it was, I wonder how he explained it to his business associates. In any case, be warned, people.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 11:56 am

     
  20. sonia says:

    thanks MM for that info on tiffany’s doing “golden facelifts” — a very useful tip!
    i agree with fried neuron — if you can’t buy the real thing, why get a fake?
    happy window shopping ( and real shopping too!) MM and family. looking forward to your posts on all those luxury items we cannot afford but love to look at anyway.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 12:25 pm

     
  21. zel says:

    Personally, (and this is just me) I think LV bags are not nice looking at all. I mean it’s a brown bag with the initials all over it. (and brown is my least favorite color) Sure, it’ll last you a lifetime but even if I can afford it, I’d settle for a nicer looking bag anytime like Coach or Hermes…again, if you have the money, why not?

    Jan 3, 2008 | 1:20 pm

     
  22. lee says:

    luis buttones.

    I think the best bag is a canvas tote with a http://www.marketmanila.com print. haha. hahahappy new year.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 1:26 pm

     
  23. jenny says:

    A balikbayan friend comes home to the Philippines every few years and goes wild shopping for fake LV bags and other fake branded items. They never had any problems going back to the US. I wonder how they do it.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 1:46 pm

     
  24. Marketman says:

    lee, Luis Buttones…hahaha. I’m with you, I have two cacha marketmanila totes with me most of the time when shopping. And to those that are wondering, I have never purchased a LV bag… and for the more curious, the monogrammed line (the classic one) is made of laminated canvas, not leather, and it is only the trim that is made from leather… hence its durability and relative indestructibility… but folks have their own preferences for any myriad of reasons…so, to each their own…

    Jan 3, 2008 | 1:53 pm

     
  25. ej says:

    whoa, 50%… i should get married now lest the price goes up and i can’t afford to have a tiffany’s ring. or if not i can just get the rings now even if i don’t know my future husband’s size (or who i’m gonna marry for that matter), hehe… but since they are resizeable… hrmmm…
    i hope you had a great time in ny. it’s really cold now and i think we’re expecting some snow, glad you came back safely to sunny manila.
    i can’t wait for your food posts!

    Jan 3, 2008 | 3:10 pm

     
  26. carina says:

    oh, i felt a tinge of sadness when i saw the rings…:(

    Jan 3, 2008 | 5:38 pm

     
  27. Joanne says:

    I have been surprised too at the sheer increase in the number of people toting real LV in Manila when I come home. I think the brand’s increasing popularity among folks who have the cash or the credit limit to buy their stuff increased with the opening of the luxury brand’s store in Manila. It makes it easy for many to gun for an LV na kasi its available locally already.

    Jan 3, 2008 | 8:14 pm

     
  28. Maria Clara says:

    5th Avenue in New York is the trendiest place to shop or browse around – all the big name fashion designers and department stores are there like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California but more selection and home of the real thing not knock off!

    Jan 4, 2008 | 3:46 am

     
  29. maddie says:

    hmmmmm. maybe the retailers here should come up with some ads telling tourists about buying fakes and what can happen upon reaching their shores.

    on a personal note…i envy you to the nth power! New York is just my fave city of all time. And I never miss going inside that Tiffany store every time I’m there. Not that I purchase anything when I’m there.

    Jan 4, 2008 | 8:54 am

     
  30. Ebba Myra says:

    My sister gave me a LV bag which I thought “ugly” and I personally did not care much for designers anyway (and honestly at that time I did not know what the initials stands for). So I had it in my closet for almost 2 years till my teenage daughter asked me if I really have an LV bag and I said yes, and she jumped into my junk in the closet. Shrieking, she informed me that she will be using it for school – well, I still didn’t know then what the big hoopla was. F.Y.I. lst year, I ended up selling that bag in Ebay getting a pretty good sum of money considering its almost a 5 years old bag. (used only 3 times

    Jan 4, 2008 | 12:33 pm

     
  31. Pecorino says:

    Amazing that Tiffany fixed your ring in just 2 days. Cartier on 5th Avenue was going to take 3 months to fix a simple broken lock on my bracelet. I didn’t even bother to ask how much it was going to cost.

    I finally took my bracelet to Rustan’s Makati where it was then sent to Cartier Hongkong. It still took two months to fix. (At least I wasn’t charged anything. The lock problem was due to product defect.) DUH! This really made me wonder what one is paying through the nose for. I own several non-branded bracelets and never had this type of quality defect with those. Btw, after a few months of use, the new lock on my Cartier bracelet was broken again… So much for luxury brands…

    Jan 6, 2008 | 6:50 pm

     
  32. Pecorino says:

    It’s amazing that Tiffany fixed your ring in just 2 days. Cartier on 5th Avenue was going to take 3 months to fix a simple broken lock on my bracelet. I didn’t even bother to ask how much it was going to cost.

    I finally took my bracelet to Rustan’s Makati where it was then sent to Cartier Hongkong. It still took two months to fix. (At least I wasn’t charged anything. The lock problem was due to product defect.) DUH! This really made me wonder what one is paying through the nose for. I own several non-branded bracelets and never had this type of quality defect with those. Btw, after a few months of use, the new lock on my Cartier bracelet was broken again… So much for luxury brands…

    Jan 6, 2008 | 9:35 pm

     
  33. Isabelle says:

    I have long wanted a Tiffany engagement ring. I finally got my wish recently :-) Thanks for your article which confirmed our decision that a Tiffany ring was the way to go despite the hefty price. Considering the service we got and the lifetime warranty, we think it was worth it. Thanks again MM!

    Jan 15, 2008 | 10:19 am

     
 

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