Sunday, November 4, 2012

€2.5m Tiffany diamond dazzles shoppers at Brown Thomas

The €2.5m Tiffany yellow diamond necklace holding centre stage in Brown Thomas's Marvel Room has attracted some "keen Irish interest" says Shelly Corkery, the department store's fashion director.
"Will it sell this week? I don't know but if someone does buy it, it will be a well thought-out decision," maintains Ms Corkery.
As the country prepares for its fifth austerity budget with the busiest retail period of our calendar year approaching it begs the question, are people still able to spend?
Ms Corkery is the brains behind the Marvel Room, an area dedicated to Christmas gifts. The rare necklace holds court in the pop-up gift area on the store's first floor. Designed for Kate Winslet for the 2010 Academy Awards, it is the first time the necklace has been on show in Europe.
"There are some very wealthy people around," says Ms Corkery. "Some people have been talking about it [the necklace]." When she says "talking" she means "people are interested in buying it". As with paintings, jewellery is "something people invest in".
"People were scared over the last few years but they're feeling more confident now. Our luxury goods business is very strong and accessories has shown growth," notes Ms Corkery.
The company's most recent accounts show it made a profit of €6.1m, with an operating profit of 13 per cent.
Prices in the Marvel Room start at €2 for fingerpaints for children. Other items include a Prada bag designed exclusively for BT and "techie things" such as the Magic Cube, a virtual keyboard projector for smart phones.
Ms Corkery says the Marvel Room came about because "as a business we were not good at gifting so we gathered all the troops, sent our buyers out all over the world and told them to think outside the box".
And have customers been buying? The trend Ms Corkery has spotted is that "people are buying for themselves and especially in accessories". Another key pattern that has been identified is the thought process behind people's spending habits. People are thinking more clearly about how they are buying compared to the "good times [when] they weren't looking as closely". Shoes are a big seller in the store, along with high-price items such as cashmere coats.
If the nation is shopping differently, then the retail sector is doing business differently. Ms Corkery says her work now is more "exciting" than it was in the boom years.
"You're being tested and challenged, you learn a lot and have to look outside the box. We're seeing growth as we're using new ideas and creating activity by having people like Victoria Beckham and Robbie Williams visit the store."
The Marvel Room will be open until Christmas but the Kate Winslet necklace, with its three rare yellow diamonds and 642 white diamonds, will depart the store on Friday.

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