44 Martin Pl., Sydney
It isn’t easy to outshine the shimmering blue water of Sydney’s world-famous harbor, but the luxe gems that populate the city’s oldest jewelry store come pretty close. For more than 150 years, discerning Antipodeans have coveted the bespoke creations and world-class service that are the hallmark of Fairfax & Roberts, located in an elegant showroom at the base of the Henry Davis York Building, a 1930s landmark along a bustling pedestrian mall in Sydney’s central business district. But this is no stodgy, white-glove operation: A makeover of the store’s elegant Diamond Room and the recent arrival of sales director and brand-strategy powerhouse Venietta Slama-Powell are a sign this heritage jeweler wants to entice a new generation that will flock to its beautifully presented cases for an eye-catching investment piece.
The French Revolution
Last year, Fairfax & Roberts brought jewelry designer Thierry Martin on board as creative director. The French-born Martin boasts a red-carpet clientele that has included Jennifer Aniston and Helen Hunt, stints with Chanel, Gucci, Tiffany & Co., and Harry Winston, and a personal library of more than 300 jewelry books. He stayed close to home for his first Fairfax & Roberts collections, aptly named Mademoiselle de Paris and de Cannes. But his latest line, the Martin Collection, was inspired by the F&R showroom’s Art Deco vibe and Sydney’s saucy, laid-back attitude. The pieces retail from $1,900—a base price point that the store has never offered. “The Martin is the most bold collection we’ve ever offered as a brand,” says Slama-Powell. “It’s very much fashion-forward and made for a modern woman.”
Customers who visit the Diamond Room (a Fabergé showroom and a DKNY store in its previous incarnations) are treated to a glimpse of the store’s internationally acclaimed atelier, where four jewelry makers and two setters work side by side behind windows. “We often have jewelers from Europe who are very envious of their environment,” says Slama-Powell. “And with the windows, our customers can enjoy the theater, if you like.” Tools are fastidiously stored on shelves within shapes outlined in white paint, adding a rustic touch that gives the space the feel of an artisan’s workshop. Or, as Slama-Powell describes it, “an environment of eclectic elegance.”
The Extra Mile
Need to pick up your dry cleaning? Looking for a florist who can decorate your dinner party? Trying to cram lunch and a design consultation into one quick hour? Fairfax & Roberts will grab the clothes, call the florist, and pick up a meal for you, too—all as part of its attentive concierge service, offered at no cost. And that’s just for starters: When we spoke, Slama-Powell mentioned a client from Melbourne who’d just ordered a pricey engagement ring and expressed concern about its arrival. The brand director didn’t miss a beat: “I’m going to hop on a plane and deliver it to him.”
Perched above the showroom is the cozy Cufflink Mezzanine, where a broad range of fasteners jostle for customers’ attention. There are plenty of traditional designs—all of the pieces are made to order by legendary U.K. cufflink designer Deakin & Francis, which counts Fairfax as its sole retail partner down under—but it’s the more playful creations that really catch the eye. JCK spied ladybugs, lime slices, frogs, and a particularly eye-catching pair of white gold and sapphire skulls with diamond eyes and movable jaws. “Those were actually secured by a client today,” said Slama-Powell when we spoke a week later. “I was sad to see them go—they were my favorite pair!”
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