Emily Ziff

New York, NY

My dad gave me these Tiffany pearl and diamond earrings for my 13th birthday, which was the last birthday of mine he was alive for. So this was the last gift he ever gave me.

The last few years he was alive, I was at sleep-away camp around my birthday and at the end of the summer, he would start sending clues by mail about what my present was going to be. During that last summer, the first clue was a piece of blue paper, which was the typical Tiffany color blue and then the second clue was just a piece of white ribbon in an envelope, very mysterious. Being at a ridiculously ritzy summer camp, I was primed to know that it was going to be some piece of jewelry from Tiffany’s.

I remember we celebrated my birthday at this Chinese restaurant on the Upper West Side called Shun Lee that had these big ornate dragons. I was totally captivated by those dragons as well as by getting that present, which was definitely the most grown up and girly kind of gift I had ever received.

I didn’t wear the earrings for a long time because they’re a little too grown up for a 13 year old.

I started wearing them in my early 20s when I would accompany the woman I used to work with to meet investors because I felt more grown up when I was wearing them. At a certain point, they became part of my grown-up costume.

Now I wear them all the time. I love them. I feel like they suit me as I actually am. I feel totally comfortable in them and I don’t feel like they represent a kind of fabrication or posturing.

I do wear them with a tiny bit of irony because they’re incredibly girly, which is probably what my dad had in mind. I was a young girl on the cusp of adolescence and I think there’s something very feminine and girlish and prim so those are qualities I sort of adopt when I wear them, but with a wink and a nod.

They were basically a delayed gift because he knew he wouldn’t be here. They’ve become a gift to me as an adult in a way that they weren’t when he first gave them to me.

Emily Ziff runs Cooper’s Town Productions with Philip Seymour Hoffman. She has produced Capote and most recently, Jack Goes Boating.