A Cautionary Tale at the Holidays

Some of you may have heard the sad tale of my Tiffany & Company Charm Bracelet, but at this time of year when gifts are being thought of it bears a reminder.

I’m a big supporter of Tiffany, I’ve bought my Opening Night gifts there since I was a teenager, as well as my watch, and husbands signet ring etc. They have something for almost every budget, from 25 dollars to 25 million. One friend of my sister’s told her husband, after many failed present attempts “If it doesn’t come in a little blue box I-DON’T-WANT-IT!” I think that’s overkill myself but there’s no doubt that that Tiffany blue perks up the heart rate.

So for my 50th Birthday I asked my friends to go in together on a charm, my husband was going to buy the bracelet and I had a few Tiffany pendants and charms I’d found over the years and wanted to give them a good home. They outdid themselves and also bought the bracelet, so he bought me the Present Padlock to hold the clasps – a brilliant solution – so we thought. It turns out (and Tiffany will now tell you this, although they didn’t when we bought them) that the padlocks aren’t strong enough to even stay on the bracelets – the company suggests you have them solder them shut – rather defeats the purpose of the padlock doesn’t it? So I now have merrily put 8 charms on my bracelet, held by this lovely lock. I go off with my goddaughter to Santa Barbara, where (being a kid) she manages to get wet in the surf. I dry her off, shake the sand out of the towel, and off we go to lunch. At lunch I look down and the bracelet is GONE!!!!! We rush back to the parking lot by the ocean, and find the padlock charm, run over by cars and sad, but there – clearly it had let go and fallen off when i shook out the towel. The bracelet however is nowhere to be found, search as we may. I contacted the parking lot company, police and Tiffany’s in case it was turned in but no luck. When I went to complain to Tiffany about the clearly defective lock they explained they are all like that – and they will solder on to the bracelet free. Not much help for the bracelet I have lost. No apology, offer to replace (yes I had the receipts) or real concern; too bad so sad – buy them all again. Not at all the customer service I expect from such a fine store. They did polish the one that had been run over, my only remnant of my 50th bracelet. So one by one I am replacing the charms, because even though the service has lost luster, the charms still glitter seductively.

But anyone buying them as Holiday presents this year be warned – get them soldered – even though it means the padlocks don’t work as padlocks.

Or opt for the wonderful heart with key that opens it – which works as it should and is a brilliant charm. Better yet – go for a Walter Lampl padlock from the 40’s – those work perfectly even after all these years!

Walter Lampl enamel guilloche padlock charm circa 1940

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