NEW YORK – Tiffany & Co. has quietly added thousands of manufacturing jobs over the past two years as it digs deeper into the diamond business.
The jeweler has increased its staff by 2,300 employees since early 2017, about a 19 percent rise in headcount. Nearly all of the new jobs are in Tiffany factories abroad or jewelry manufacturing in the United States. The remainder are mostly associate positions in newly-opened retail stores or corporate jobs in areas such as digital commerce and business analytics.
“We believe it’s a competitive advantage to cut and polish our own stones,” Alessandro Bogliolo, CEO of Tiffany, said in an interview. “That is a very large operation with several thousand individuals, and we’ve continued to add.”
Tiffany factories in Vietnam, Cambodia, Botswana and Mauritius turn rough diamonds into the shiny stones used in the label’s engagement rings and pendants. The jewelry itself is assembled in different workshops across the U.S., including Kentucky, New York and Cumberland.
The company’s operations make it “unique,” said Laurent Vasilescu, an analyst at Macquarie Capital, “in the sense that they are manufacturers.” In contrast, most U.S. luxury companies outsource the vast majority of their production, he said. In January, Tiffany announced it would become more transparent about where its diamonds come from. The company says it is able to do so because it owns much of the manufacturing process for its jewelry lines.
Tiffany shoppers can already see the region or country of origin for a selection of diamond rings. In stores, they can ask associates for information on all newly sourced, individually registered diamonds. By 2020, customers will be able to view a more comprehensive look at a diamond’s path to the jewelry case—from where it was mined to where it was cut and polished.
That level of transparency will be an industry first, according to Tiffany. Bogliolo said it’s his company’s “duty” to reveal the provenance of its gemstones.
Kim Bhasin is a reporter for Bloomberg News.