Jewelers Are Drawn to an Already Gilded Avenue | Kentshire Jewelers

Posted on Sep 12, 2007 in Uncategorized

Madison Avenue Jewelers

Published: September 12, 2007
Always a mecca for high-end retailers, Madison Avenue is now attracting a dazzling array of jewelers that are opening new boutiques or occupying larger quarters. Most of the recent burst of development is taking place on a short stretch of the avenue, from 61st through 64th Streets.

Marc Hruschka

John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times

Marc Hruschka, president and chief executive of Chopard Inc.

The neighborhood is becoming a magnet for jewelers in part because it is already home to luxury retailers like Barneys New York, Chanel, Jimmy Choo and Hermès, industry and real estate professionals say. These stores’ customers, many of whom live nearby, will no doubt be attracted to high-end jewelry stores.

Six jewelers are opening shops on this three-block stretch.

Two of them — Ivanka Trump, a venture by and named for the older daughter of Donald Trump, and Kwiat Diamonds, a wholesaler — are opening their first stores anywhere.

Leviev, an Israeli diamond trader that entered the retail business for the first time last year in London, is opening its first United States boutique. Kentshire, a dealer in antique jewelry and furniture, will sublet space from Leviev.

Two other jewelers — Chopard, the Swiss watch and jewelry dealer, and Graff, the British diamond merchant — are already on Madison Avenue, but they have outgrown their existing quarters and are moving to larger spaces.

And Asprey, the British seller of jewelry and other luxury goods, has moved farther north, to a new, albeit smaller, store at 853 Madison Avenue, between 70th and 71st Streets.

These are among about 50 jewelry specialists on Madison Avenue within its Business Improvement District, which runs from 57th Street to 86th Street.

Stephen Russell, a dealer in antique, estate and contemporary jewelry, is moving next month from a 600-square-foot store at 962 Madison Avenue to an 1,100-square-foot shop four doors away at 970 Madison Avenue, on the southwest corner of 76th Street.

Madison Avenue offers many attractions. The stretch has “shop upon shop for affluent luxury shoppers, with international hotels and culture nearby,” said Karen Bellantoni, a senior vice president of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, the brokerage company. The town houses there, she said, “give jewelers the ability to showcase their brand, versus being part of the office landscape” on Fifth Avenue.

The avenue also gives retailers with smaller space requirements “the ability to do the jewel-box effect,” Ms. Bellantoni said. “It’s hard to find 1,000 or 2,000 square feet on Fifth Avenue” — most store spaces there are larger.

Although Fifth Avenue is home to famous jewelry names like Tiffany and Harry Winston, shoppers there differ from those on Madison Avenue, Ms. Bellantoni said. “People come from across the country, stay in Times Square, shop on Fifth Avenue,” she said. “It’s not the same customer who goes over to Madison Avenue.”

Another plus is Madison Avenue’s wealthy local market, said Michele Heary, managing director of Asprey U.S.A. “We’re within walking distance of our customers’ homes, so it is a good opportunity to service all their gift needs,” she said.

Ms. Trump, principal of Ivanka Trump and vice president for real estate development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, opened her shop on Monday, in partnership with the Dynamic Diamond Corporation, a wholesaler. The store occupies 1,200 square feet at 683 Madison Avenue, between 61st and 62nd Streets.

Leviev is to open a 4,000-square-foot shop at 700 Madison Avenue, between 62nd and 63rd Streets, next month; it is renting a landmark 1920s building and subleasing some space to other tenants, including Kentshire, whose 3,500-square-foot store will open in November. Leviev’s store will have two selling floors, with décor that combines antiques and contemporary furniture.

Currently at 725 Madison Avenue, Chopard will move next month to 709 Madison Avenue, the former Timberland store at the southeast corner of 63rd Street. Its selling space will increase to 3,500 square feet from 950 square feet, said Marc Hruschka, president and chief executive of Chopard Inc., to accommodate a product range and clientele that have expanded considerably since the jeweler opened its first New York boutique 12 years ago. The store will have two floors of selling space, with 42-inch flat screens to show videos of merchandise and events that Chopard sponsors.

Diagonally across the intersection, at 710 Madison Avenue, will be Graff’s new store, once occupied by Givenchy. This will have selling spaces of 1,400 square feet on the ground floor and 700 square feet on the mezzanine. Graff, which now occupies an 800-square-foot shop at 721 Madison Avenue, is to move into its new quarters next summer.

Kwiat, a family-run wholesaler, decided to open a boutique when it celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. It is to move into Chopard’s current boutique, at 725 Madison Avenue, between 63rd and 64th Streets, early next year. It will sell from both the ground floor and a mezzanine.

Asprey moved into its store, once part of Yves St. Laurent’s Madison Avenue boutique, last April. It has about 3,000 square feet of selling space on the ground floor for jewelry, and 4,500 square feet on the second floor for luxury goods like silver and exotic animal skins.

Shortly after Asprey was bought by United States asset management companies in 2006, it vacated its 20,000-square-foot, three-floor store in Trump Tower, where it had been a tenant since 1983. Ms. Heary called the new location “very warm, not so much like a museum.”

All of the jewelers said they were glad to be close to their competitors, a situation that Ralph Destino, chairman of the Gemological Institute of America, also deemed beneficial.

Mr. Destino, who opened a Madison Avenue offshoot of Cartier’s Fifth Avenue store about 15 years ago when he ran the jeweler’s American operation, said: “The best location for a jeweler is right next to a jeweler. Clustering tends to focus consumers on the category; it leads to commercial success for everyone.”