When I first read the press release that came into my inbox about Kate Winslet’s Oscars jewels, I skimmed it and binned it. But there was something that stuck in my mind, so I dug it out of my email trash. That thing that stuck in my mind is 2.5 million. That’s not the number of viewers, or the fee Kate Winslet got paid for her last film, its the price tag of the necklace she was wearing on Sunday at the Academy Awards.
My immediate thoughts were about the business aspects: How many security guards did Tiffany & Co. send to accompany her with the jewelry? How many of these do they expect to sell? What is the insurance premium on lending out this type of jewelry? Is the exposure worth all these costs?
But then I got thinking about the real value of this necklace. What can you get for 2.5 million dollars? A lot. I’d find a way so that I’d never have to work again. Some people would buy a house, or four. You could build a school, or make a very big difference in a town in a third world country. In fashion perspectives, its more than 1,000 Chanel 2.55 bags. Can anyone justify spending that much on a piece of jewelry?
I love luxury goods and I’d love to have the money to buy more. But I’m embarrassed by the level of conspicuous consumption that exists in this world. A pair of shoes that costs $1,000 is excessive, but you would need to buy 2,500 pairs to hit the 2.5 million dollar mark. The only single item I could ever justify spending 2.5 million dollars on, aside from a house, would be a piece of artwork. But a beautiful piece of art could be enjoyed by hundreds of people, and should increase in value. Does a necklace do that? How much is that item worth, once its “off the lot”?
Perhaps I am being hypocritical in thinking that its almost unethical to have a piece of jewelry that costs that much. I’d gladly spend $20,000 on am Hermes Birkin bag if I could comfortably afford it (and it doesn’t lose much value when its driven off the lot…) But then again Tiffany & Co. may have just made that necklace so that people like me would write blog posts about the shocking price tag. Let’s face it, Tiffany’s jewelry is about accessible luxury jewelry (and by that I mean, expensive, but not out of this world) so I guess they probably need those fantastic necklaces to remind people the brand isn’t all about chain bracelets with engraved silver hearts.
A final thought, how does it feel to wear something of that value? Is it any different than something a fraction of its price? I imagine its about the emotional attachment to an item that makes it feel good to wear, and Kate Winslet probably didn’t have much of an attachment to a necklace that was lent to her for a few hours, with a bunch of security guards in tow.