Phoenix—the so-called Valley of the Sun—just got a little more dazzling.
Iconic fine jewelry brand Black, Starr & Frost cut the ribbon on its first location in the desert city last week—and officially opened its second stand-alone store, located inside the swanky Biltmore Plaza Shopping Center on Oct. 17.
On hand to celebrate was entertainment legend Carol Channing, who sang “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in the Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The chateau-style “salon” was built out to be adjacent to Molina Fine Jewelers, which is owned by Alfredo J. Molina, chairman of Black, Starr & Frost. The stores will operate independently. Molina acquired Black, Starr & Frost in 2006 and in 2011 launched a store in Newport Beach, Calif.
The brand’s thoughtful retail expansion speaks to Molina’s efforts to reestablish Black, Starr & Frost as a top-tier fine jewelry brand. Both Phoenix and Newport Beach are smart markets for the luxury brand; women in both regions favor the kind of classic, feminine diamond looks the atelier is known for. The brand, which is one of the oldest continuously operating jewelry firms in the United States, had more 30 locations in its heyday.
In a statement, Molina said, “The Phoenix and Scottsdale market is a perfect market for classic jewelry, rare jewels, luxury timepieces, and finely crafted pieces…this store is critical to our expansion as we continue to focus on revitalizing the Black, Starr & Frost brand.”
The store’s interiors reference the brand’s New York City roots. Architect Erik Peterson of PHX Architecture took inspiration from vintage photos of Black, Starr & Frost stores when designing the space. There are black-and-white tiled floors, black-on-black patterned wallpapers, and sterling silver accents (a nod to the brand’s silversmithing early days).
Peterson also had a gold replica made of the American eagle—a BS&F motif since its beginnings—for the front door. Also festooning the storefront is hardware patterned after an Art Nouveau–style emerald-and-diamond brooch from Black, Starr & Frost created in 1880. Clients curious about the brand’s history can also peruse a showcase of vintage photos, antiques, and original pieces from the company’s archives.
Other elements of note in the new outpost include an enclosed outdoor front patio, designed as a venue for special events and parties; an upstairs VIP area; and “a state-of-the art safe deposit box system contained within the salon’s vaults for safekeeping of clients’ valuables.” According to the press release, “the firm invented the safe box system during the Civil War to keep valuables of clients from the North and the South safe during war.”
The boutique also offers custom jewelry design and manufacturing, cleaning and inspection, fine jewelry repair, appraisals, private appointments, and a selection of estate jewelry.
(Photo of Alfred J. Molina, chairman of Black, Starr & Frost; actress Carol Channing; and Renee Dee, president of Black, Starr & Frost, at the ribbon-cutting for Phoenix’s first Black, Starr & Frost location; courtesy Black, Starr & Frost)