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RETAIL : Cartier to Toast Good Sales With a New, Larger Home

Compiled by Chris Woodyard and Zan Dubin/Times staff writers

Forget that Orange County’s biggest and plushest homes are languishing on the real estate market and big yachts are gathering barnacles in the broker’s yards. Cartier is still proving that diamonds are a popular sign of glittering success.

Despite the recession, the Cartier store at South Coast Plaza is thriving, store officials say. It is doing so well that the retailer is planning to move to larger, fancier quarters at the end of summer.

“We are extremely bullish in Orange County and South Coast Plaza, so much so that we have acquired a new location in the plaza,” said Cartier Chairman Ralph Destino. “We will be bringing the new Paris design and decor and all of the architectural ingredients of the Paris store.”

Destino said sales at the Cartier store in Costa Mesa are running 26% ahead of last year’s pace.

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Most other upscale jewelers have not fared as well. The jewelry industry has been in a two-year slump, and the recession and the new 10% federal luxury tax have made matters worse, according to Michael D. Roman, chairman of the Jewelers of America Inc., a 13,000-member trade association.

Cartier will move from its present location near Saks Fifth Avenue to a second-level store near the Jewel Court that is now occupied by Page Boy Maternity. Page Boy will move closer to Carousel Court, where other maternity stores are clustered.

A Cartier spokeswoman said the new store will be about a third larger than the present one.


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