Graff Diamonds launches first store in California

High-end jeweler Graff Diamonds is expanding with its very first store in California. Located at 237 Post Street in San Francisco, the 2,500-square-foot space represents the sixth U.S. stand-alone store for the company, which also boasts seven shop-within-a-shops at Saks Fifth Avenue locations, reported WWD.

“It’s a very exciting market and it’s our first presence on the West Coast,” Henri Barguirdjian, president and CEO of Graff USA, said to WWD. “It’s almost like being in a different country.”

Barguirdjian plans to reach out to the label’s existing customer base in San Francisco, which is solid due to Graff’s remarkable brand awareness in China.

Graff has been steadily growing its footprint in Asia, opening five stores across the continent during the last couple years, which represents one-fourth the of jewelry company’s total stores. With locations in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Taipei, the luxury jeweler intends to tackle next new stores in Macau and Hangzhou, China, plus another in Gstaad, Switzerland.

“Our sales are progressing very nicely all around the world,” Barguirdjian reported. “What’s interesting is that since the 2008 meltdown, we were fortunate enough to not suffer. There has been a slowdown in the mid- to medium-luxury market but we deal with very high luxury.”

And the numbers back him up: The company anticipates sales of $800 million in 2011. Moreover, Graff aims to generate up to $1 billion for an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Most famous for its sizeable gems, Graff has purchased and sold a number of major diamonds, including the whopping 603-carat Lesotho Promise.

Although the cost of diamonds is soaring, the jeweler claims its clientele has stayed steady.

“People like to buy very rare and fine objects,” Barguirdjian said, acknowledging that sales of the brand’s watches have suffered some from the recent economic troubles.

“The price of gold has increased so much, on average 15 to 20 percent,” he explained. “We had to increase the prices [of watches] rather dramatically.”

The new location’s design was conceived by architect Peter Marino. Based on the brand’s flagship on New York’s Madison Avenue, the store is classically elegant, featuring French walnut and parchment paneling on the inside and a limestone façade with a bronze window wall on the exterior. Customers enter through an arch with decorative screens over Pentelikon and Cippolino stone floors.

The store’s opening event, to be graced by Graff founder and chairman Laurence Graff, is dedicated to the University of California San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital.

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LadyLUX via Graff Diamonds

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