On a bustling corner of Beverly Hills, surrounded by Harry Winston, Dior and stores from other high-end labels, the French jewelry brand Van Cleef & Arpels is busy celebrating the 50th anniversary of its boutique on Rodeo Drive with the unveiling of an ambitious revamp of the space.
The refreshed store is modeled after an extravagant but relaxed Parisian apartment. In the rotunda entry, tall glass doors let in sunlight that reflects off gold butterfly figurines perched on gold-leaf-painted walls under a Murano glass chandelier, which resembles a funnel of leaves.
This month, The Times previewed the revamped space, which is open to the public. Glass cases ensconced in walls and atop dark wood tables display Van Cleef & Arpels’ long-standing craftsmanship. Among the featured pieces are the luxury jewelry brand’s signature four-leaf-clover-inspired Alhambra collection as well as a $9,900 turquoise and diamond ring, which appears to float between a wearer’s fingers, and a $116,000 white gold, diamond and alligator skin women’s watch depicting lovers meeting on a bridge at noon and midnight.
“It’s a special moment for us so we decided to renovate,” said Helen King, president and chief executive officer of Van Cleef & Arpels’ Americas business. Declining to reveal the budget for the remodel, which lasted about eight months, she said, “It was a huge investment.”
On the first floor, shoppers can imagine themselves in the tropics at the new Champagne and juice bar in the back of the store and relax on plush chairs with raffia pillows in front of palm-tree-printed wallpaper by the storied French company Zuber & Cie. Also, a bartender will be on hand to pour Brut bubbly from Billecart-Salmon and juice concoctions such as the Red Romance, pressed from blood oranges, strawberries and watermelon and topped with flowers, into Saint-Louis crystal glasses.
With an expansion to the second floor, which has almost doubled the space from 4,000 square feet to about 7,500 square feet, Van Cleef & Arpels is introducing an 18-seat dining room. The upper level includes a pair of salons, the pink-hued Poetic Salon and a streamlined counterpart named the Art Deco Salon, which is decorated with modern Kelly Wearstler-designed vases. From the second-floor ceiling, alabaster pendants form an abstract chandelier evoking the Big and Little Dipper constellations. In various rooms, digital screens lighten the interior with images of pastel-tinted grass and trees.
The investment in the space appears to be worthwhile for Van Cleef & Arpels’ parent company, Swiss-based Richemont, which owns a portfolio of luxe jewelry and watch brands including Cartier, Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre. King said the Beverly Hills boutique is Van Cleef & Arpels’ second largest in the U.S., after the flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue, and one of the three best performers out of its 136-store retail network.
According to consulting firm Bain & Co., the global market for personal luxury goods is growing steadily. Bain projected that worldwide luxury sales will grow between 4% and 6% this year, exceeding 271 billion euros ($298.61 billion at current exchange rates).
Although the rest of the diamond industry may prioritize the four Cs (color, clarity, cut and carats), King said Van Cleef & Arpels instead focuses on the four Es. “We want to enhance,” she said. “We want to enrich. We want to engage the client and we want to educate the client.”
In tribute to its first store, which opened in Paris’ Place Vendôme in 1906, Van Cleef & Arpels is unveiling a room in the Beverly Hills space called Salon 1906, the second in the U.S. outside of Boston, where it exhibits museum-caliber designs made throughout the brand’s history.
Acknowledging the theme of luck that permeates Van Cleef & Arpels’ collections, the current exhibition includes a gold horseshoe accented with diamonds from 1938. Although none of the items in Salon 1906 are for sale, King said, “We want to share that history.”
To continue educating clients, King said the brand is considering ideas for activities and events following the golden jubilee. “Maybe we’ll do classes,” she said, citing the possibility of inviting a gemstone expert, polisher or watchmaker. “We just want to welcome anyone who has any interest in jewelry.”