Design of the Times

Whether it was a top-to-bottom renovation, an expansion, or simply a refreshing, these four jewelry stores tackled their toughest challenges with sparkling results.

Diamond in the Rough

Bernardsville, N.J.
Edward and Faina Shapiro, owners

The challenge: To renovate an eyesore of a building while respecting the town’s Revolutionary War-era roots.

For six years, Diamond
Dream was housed on the edge of town. But when the opportunity arose to
buy a 100-year-old building in the borough’s prime shopping district,
Edward and Faina Shapiro jumped at the chance. 

true challenge was renovating the Mine Brook Road space so that it
meshed with its historic downtown neighbors, including a charming inn
and an old-fashioned movie theater. “It looked like a barn,” says Ruth
Mellergaard, principal of design and planning firm GRID/3. First,
Mellergaard’s team replaced the two separate entrances with a single
glass doorway and added three large windows so people in the
pedestrian-friendly business district could peek inside the store.

The shop’s new exterior

to work around the building’s supporting structural columns, the firm
installed a circular display island and built the soffit above the
display cases. (The soffit contains low-voltage MR16 tungsten halogen
Solux lamps set at 4100 Kelvin; 3500 Kelvin fluorescents illuminate the
cases.) And though it was dictated by necessity, the spherical setup
yielded one big bonus: When customers are exploring the store, they
won’t miss a thing.

the building’s biggest transformation came in the form of a new façade,
which incorporates an “exterior insulation and finish system”—also
known as “synthetic stucco.” Manufactured by Dryvit Systems Inc., the
waterproof, insulated material provides a finished surface that can be
shaped, molded, textured, and colored in many ways. For Diamond Dream,
Mellergaard used it to create an even roofline, to add architectural
elements in a darker tone (like trim for the building’s top and sides),
and to fashion decorative elements around the second-story windows. 

the town and the Shapiros are thrilled with the finished product. “It
feels like home,” says Edward. “My wife doesn’t want to go home with
me. She wants to stay in the store.”  

Southern Comfort

Shreveport, La.
Ginger Clarke and her son,
Jay Mitchell, owners

The new floor plan allows for a better flow

The challenge: To freshen up Clarkes’ look in a new location while upholding the jeweler’s esteemed eight-decades-old reputation.

Ginger and Jay enlisted a team of experts for the interior re-design:
Pam Levine of Levine Design Group; jewelry consultant Kate Peterson of
Performance Concepts; and design firm GRID/3. Levine—who selected
fixtures, invented a product-display system, established a
merchandising program, and designed a new logo—immediately made
merchandise her No. 1 priority. In jewelry-store design, she explains,
“the environment often receives the lion’s share of the budget and
time, and most displays are ordered from a catalog.” 

the cases too crowded, Levine picked fewer pieces to show—thus
sharpening the focus on individual designers. She also developed a
uniform signage system for the displays. Colors and textures cleverly
highlight and separate bridal, diamond, and designer lines. Bisazza
Italian glass mosaic tiles sparkle outside the building and inside the
cases. Towers scattered around the store present jewelry at eye level,
and video monitors exhibit designers’ work. 

are becoming quite sophisticated in our presentation,” says Ginger, who
opened her new store Dec. 4, 2009. “Now I want to be the Bergdorf
Goodman look-in-the-window kind of store—and we’re getting there with
Pam’s help.”


Sunshine State of Mind

Sanibel Island, Fla.
Karen Bell and Dan Schuyler, owners

Lily’s added-on space

The challenge: To
expand its offerings—adding fine arts and gifts to the designer jewelry
selections—and boost its square footage under government-dictated

Throughout the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, the
Lily & Co. building had served as an African-American schoolhouse,
and in 1999, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic
Places. So when the owners wanted to grow from 2,300 square feet to
3,500—expanding the gallery into a former bank space—they knew they
couldn’t mess with their original structure. “We’ve always envisioned carrying
fine art, fine giftware, and fine jewelry,” says Dan Schuyler, who
opened Lily & Co. in 2006 and named the jewelry store after Karen
Bell’s chocolate-brown Labradoodle. 

solution? Build an extension connecting the two buildings via the bank
drive-through. Ultimately, it allowed Bell and Schuyler to preserve the
schoolhouse’s historical integrity—and to add 11 showcases of jewelry
and four wall units of giftware.

oversaw the design, bringing back Sandcastle Construction’s Mike
Valiquette, the contractor who worked on Lily & Co. the first time
around. To achieve a uniform appearance throughout the gallery, the
addition incorporates the materials and concepts used in the original
building: the same honey-colored hardwood floors; the same bright white
walls; the same display cases, custom-designed by Baker Store Equipment, in the narrow-paneled style of old-Florida bead board. Decorative hanging tortoise-shell spotlighting pays homage to Sanibel Island’s status as one of the world’s top breeding grounds for sea turtles. 

new Lily & Co. opened to the public in November 2009. It was the
third renovation since Schuyler and Bell bought the building in 2005.
It’s also the last. “The drive-through was grandfathered in, and we’re already over-allocated for the lot as far as parking spaces per acre,” Schuyler says. “This is it. We’re done!”


The Next Big (Easy) Thing

New Orleans

Jack Sutton, owner

The interior of the store

The challenge: To cultivate a modern look and ambiance that meshed with the centuries-old architecture of the Crescent City. 

“I didn’t want to be a run-of-the-mill
mom-and-pop store—regular carpet, regular cases,” explains Jack Sutton,
who, after 24 years, moved from inside the Shops at Canal Place to a
storefront smack in the middle of Canal Street. 

Mounier, co-owner and vice president of design at NK Newlook, helped
Sutton design a theme that set him apart from the city’s more
traditional stores: “It’s more modern but not cold; very clean and
simple,” explains Mounier. 

Using contrasting colors, clean lines, and small design elements, the space opened for business in early 2009.

selected a simple white for the walls and ceiling, along with
understated matte marble flooring. The display cases—white inside, dark
wood laminate outside—are almost uniformly straight, save a few in the
store’s rear, softening the space and luring shoppers back toward the
store’s L-shaped extension (and, of course, more jewels). 

cases even boast front access, so salespeople can stand beside the
customer instead of behind a counter, fostering, as Mounier says, “a
more friendly relationship.”

above the showcases enclose metal halide lamps of 4200 Kelvin; “it’s
pretty white, and it puts the accent on the dark showcase,” Mounier
says. LEDs inside the cases are also set at 4200 Kelvin, slightly
higher than normal, to produce a cold light. 

“The look really goes with my style,” says Sutton, who specializes in custom work. “Modern and unique.”