Wednesday, August 18, 2010

(Champagne) Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Last weekend I went to New York to attend some of the pre-wedding events celebrating our daughter Eleni’s engagement to Emilio which will culminate in their wedding in Corfu, Greece on 10-10-10 (as mentioned in previous posts on this blog.)

It was a weekend full of unforgettable parties. On Saturday night, 20 friends took over the back room of the restaurant “Jadis” on Rivington Street for an engagement party, and on Sunday Eleni’s former apartment-mate, Katherine, hosted a shower in her Brooklyn home.

But one of the most delightful--because unexpected—events happened on Saturday morning when Emilio and Eleni invited us to come along to watch them pick out their wedding bands at Tiffany’s.

Exactly forty years earlier I walked into Tiffany’s with my soon-to-be husband Nick to pick out our gold wedding bands. As I recall, we did our shopping on Tiffany’s ground floor and the very thin gold band I selected cost about $40. His was larger and cost more.

This time, the wedding bands were being sold on the second floor, but first I marched everyone over to the left (uptown) wall of Tiffany’s ground floor to admire the huge Tiffany Yellow Diamond displayed in a small window in the wall, set in its “Bird on the Rock” Brooch, which was designed by the famous jeweler Jean Schlumberger. At 128.54 carats, it’s one of the largest diamonds in the world. It was discovered around 1877 in South Africa, and, after experts in Paris studied it for a year, it was carved into a cushion cut in 1878. Tiffany’s Paris head officer bought it for $18,000 and it was imported into the U.S. in 1879.

In 1983 the Tiffany Yellow Diamond was valued at $12,000,000. Seen by millions in almost seventy years of continuous display in Tiffany’s Fifth Avenue store, it has been worn by only two women—Audrey Hepburn, doing publicity for the 1961 film ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and socialite Mrs. Sheldon Whitehouse at the Tiffany Ball in 1957. Luckily, it does not have the reputation of being cursed (like the Hope Diamond).

Tiffany’s was crowded with tourists last Saturday. Taking the elevator to the second floor, we gave Eleni and Emilio some room and time to choose the wedding bands they liked best. They finally settled on matching bands with gold edges and a platinum band in the center.

The salesman went away to write up the sale, then he seated the couple at a lower section of the counter and produced two flutes of champagne to toast their purchase, accompanied by two delectable petit-four pastries frosted to look like tiny Tiffany boxes.

I loved the unexpected celebration—and so did they! It lifted the choice of their wedding bands from a simple jewelry purchase to a ritual celebrating the beginning of their new life together.

As we left the store, I could be heard muttering that forty years ago, when purchasing our simple gold bands, Nick and I saw no signs of champagne or petits fours…but if I remember correctly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Audrey Hepburn doesn’t get champagne or any sort of breakfast at Tiffany’s—she has to bring her own to eat while gazing wistfully through the store's windows at the treasures within.

But last weekend I got to enjoy my daughter’s champagne breakfast at Tiffany’s vicariously. It was a gratifying and unexpected milestone in the celebrations leading up to the wedding itself in Corfu on 10-10-10.

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