Whether you are a Yurman acolyte who has carried the company's namesake designer pieces from the beginning, or one of the growing number of jewelers who is shying away from big brands, there's no denying that Yurman has left an indelible mark on the industry, as distinctive as the classic cable bracelet that has roped in innumerable fans.
There is also no disputing that Yurman—a sculptor by trade who launched his company alongside his wife Sybil, a painter, back in 1980—is among the strong who survived an economically devastating year for jewelry sales in 2009. While a host of designers and retailers, including giants like designer Henry Dunay and Finlay Enterprises, the former operator of venerable chains Bailey Banks & Biddle and Carlyle & Co., ended up in bankruptcy court and either sold (Dunay) or closed (Finlay), Yurman has moved forward on firm footing.
The new flagship store opened in April on a luxe stretch of Madison Avenue in New York City, directly across the street from its former, much smaller digs and next to the posh Graff store, where it is not uncommon to see million-dollar diamonds perched in the display window. Yurman's new three-story home is nearly three times the size of the old store, with 2,000 sq. ft. of the townhouse-style building dedicated as retail space, designed to invoke the jeweler's sculpting pedigree. The artistic tribute starts at the front door of 712 Madison Ave., where visitors enter by grasping a Yurman-sculpted, cable design-inspired door handle.
Designed by New York-based Gabellini Sheppard Associates, the look of the store takes its cue from modern American architecture of the mid-1900s. The emphasis was on textured materials-from the striated Nublado marble flooring to the American walnut ceilings-and metal finishes, all of which pay homage to Yurman's jewelry designs and the brand's artful aesthetic.
Once inside, shoppers will notice that the tri-story shop houses specific product ranges on each level.
The lowest level is home to the complete offerings of Yurman's lifestyle brand and a blend of old favorites. An entire case is dedicated to classic designs, including the cable bracelets that launched Yurman's jewelry career and new designs, such as pieces from the "Moonlight Ice" and "Starlight" collections.
Like any designer, Yurman is hesitant to play favorites among his beloved pieces, but the new "Moonlight Ice" collection—inspired by the night skies in cities Yurman has visited—is one about which he is especially passionate. At the rear of the first floor, shoppers will find an elegant staircase ready to elevate them to the second level. (For those unable to use the staircase, an elevator also is available.)
The second floor of the townhouse is home exclusively to men's jewelry, watches, and a collection of bold metal belt buckles. In addition to the decisively masculine jewelry on display, the male-centric space is further defined by a lounge area toward the front of the floor. Complete with a flat-screen TV, the area beckons to men who are either shopping for jewelry for themselves or simply waiting on a friend.
Take the staircase up one level to the third and final floor and the vibe changes again, as Yurman's bridal collection and high-end couture pieces are on display. On this floor, the focus shifts back to the ladies; directly above the second-floor lounge area is a private viewing room where shoppers can view the pieces of their dreams in private.
Yurman hopes the new store will set a design precedent for other new jewelry stores worldwide, so what is it, exactly, that Yurman is trying to accomplish with this three-tiered approach to retail? "Dedicating singular unique spaces for each product range signifies our concerted effort to connect with customers," Yurman says. "We wanted to create a space that fully engages our customers in the David Yurman experience."
As the year reaches its halfway point, plans call for several additional David Yurman store openings, both in the United States and abroad. The brand also opened its first European store in March, in Paris' Printemps department store. Yurman declined to elaborate on how many stores the brand will open, or where they will be located, noting in late May that "specifics are still in progress."
While he remains relatively tight-lipped about new collections and new stores, there is one spoiler he did share: Yurman's not retiring anytime soon. "I am doing what I love," he says. "It is my passion."