“Listening to Beethoven’s Fifth, you get the feeling there’s something right with the world,” Leonard Bernstein famously remarked. That’s what good art does to us, how beauty affects us. And, perhaps it’s why Truman Capote set his Miss Golightly’s eye firmly on a certain glittering window. Croissant-less and coffee-less, I clicked my own heels into Atlanta’s Tiffany & Co. the other day for a noon-time whirl.
My lunch date whisked me into the store’s private back room for a peek at Tiffany & Co’s latest Atlas collection. The iconic Atlas collection first debuted in 1983, and designer John Loring continues the evolution of the series. Spread out on a hardwood table in the back of Tiffany’s, close to 20 gleaming designs fit neatly onto molds and shapes, begging to be worn how they ought to be: on warm, summer-tanned hands. Thus I obliged them.
“Beautiful, yes?” PR Guru Aida Flamm asked as we grinned and slipped on rings and bangles. “That’s the allure of the Atlas collection. Roman numerals are eternal.” The familiar shapes of clean-cut numerals create timeless cutouts in 18-karat yellow or white gold pieces. Lean and confident, the shapes command attention.
The bold jewelry shares a thread of a Southern woman in that way. You know how when you travel outside of the South, you don’t cover up your accent? “Go ahead. Ask where I’m from,” a good, slow drawl all but begs. The Atlas articulates the same sentiment. It’s almost as if the pieces beg the wearer to be asked if she’s really wearing art fashioned from numerals.
Sure there are pave diamond options, but narrow bracelets, tiny chains and sterling silver options make the collection not just aspirational, but actually attainable in price point for even a recent college grad. “For some reason, women always think you need a man to come and buy you nice jewelry. Or, you pay for a bag or shoes or even Louboutins,” Aida tsks and shakes her head. “Those wear out. Jewelry you can pass along.”
Hair piled on top of her head, stones dancing on her neckline, playful dangle earrings bobbing around her neck and multiple rings adorning her fingers, Aida looks like she wouldn’t even go to the grocery without a gem or two. However, like Bernstein, Aida’s a moth to the artistic flame. Aida speaks the language of brilliantly expressive jewelry. It captures her imagination. She lights up as she scrolls through iPhone photos from trips until she finds just the right trip to India. One double-click later and she’s zoomed in to show me a jade behemoth of a necklace she collected in India. Aida is a lifelong curator of jewels.
“When I moved to Atlanta in 1973, I had a good job,” Aida said. “I walked into Tiffany & Co. and I a bought a gold watch.” She smiles, thinking back on the memory. “I just sold it to a collector for more than I paid for that little watch. It just cracked me up.”
Her story reminds me of a few weeks ago, when I was hosting a client event in Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store. Stand by the Fifth Avenue-facing revolving door for five minutes as a throng of shapes and sizes rotates into the old, revered main room. Denim, Lululemon, tye-dye, yuppies, grandmothers, rednecks, and what I’m fairly certain was a church youth group in matching t-shirts: The Tiffany & Co. staff discerned not. Each was warmly greeted. “That’s just how we do things,” another PR rep said. “It doesn’t matter if someone looks like they’re shopping here or not. We’ve been in business long enough to know that you can’t ever really spot ‘em. Plus, you never know who is a future Tiffany & Co. customer,” she smiled and added as a bevy of junior high girls ran up to the recent Gatsby collection case.
Breakfast, lunch – it doesn’t make much difference. Our souls were made to crave art, and it’s our responsibility sometimes to step away from Facebook and email and gaze at something timeless and eternal. To eat outside. To get lost in a museum with journal in hand. To take my lunch at Tiffany’s and trace my fingers along a glass case and feel the cool metal of the Atlas collection against my skin.
“What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s,” Holly Golightly said (and in my head I only hear Audrey Hepburn’s strange, lilting accent). “It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there.” Here, here, Holly. Here’s to breaks for art’s sake.