The Thrill of Victor
Soraya Cayen’s clients have taken a shine to the unique karat gold jewels of Victor Velyan, a mainstay in the Cayen Collection in Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., for 10 years. They particularly like his Patina line—fine silver and 18k and 24k gold pieces heated with an aged proprietary blend of acid and metal shavings such as copper, iron, and zinc to give chalk white, brown, and green facades (retail: $3,500–$250,000). It appeals to women “in their late 60s and early 70s who are purchasing my most expensive pieces,” says Cayen. This is why the shop owner and designer team up for events up to five times a year, most recently in August and December 2011. (In total, Cayen has hosted about two dozen trunk shows with the Los Angeles–based artist.)
Clients mix and mingle.
Typically, Cayen has a minimum of 20 SKUs in store, displayed in part of a front and side window plus a 72-inch-long case. For events, she encourages Velyan to bring up to 75 additional pieces. “I like to fully saturate the store with merchandise when we are running a trunk show,” she says.
Cuff in 18k white gold and 24k gold with 7.21 cts. t.w. Paraiba and 0.96 ct. t.w. diamonds; $150,000; Victor Velyan, Los Angeles; 213-955-5950; victorvelyan.com
At the August event, a client purchased an ornate number dubbed the Hand of God in addition to two smaller cuffs—one with blue sapphire and one with diamonds—for a total of $70,000. During that affair—which brought in about 600 guests over six days—Cayen sold seven cuffs, two pairs of earrings, four rings, and four special orders, all priced $2,500–$35,000.
During the three-day, pre-Christmas event, which had about 50 guests, Cayen sold seven jewels ranging from $3,500 to $7,000 plus four pricier ($18,000–$25,000) pieces, then took three special orders—including $15,000 rough diamond slice earrings. After the show, the sales kept coming: an emerald ring and another cuff—confirming Cayen’s belief that cuffs sell best, and that few (less than 10 percent) buyers quit after a “single piece.”
Victor Velyan Hand of God cuff in silver and 24k gold with a brown patina; price on request
Half of the line’s revenue at the store comes from trunk shows thanks to Velyan’s charisma, tales of exotic trips (he worked as a safari guide in Africa), and “boyish” good looks, says Cayen. To promote events, Cayen emails save-the-dates to clients three months out, posts printed invites one month ahead, and calls select clients one week before. She also takes out a full-page ad featuring the jewelry in a local lifestyle magazine. One way she doesn’t publicize shows: the store’s Facebook page. “My clients really don’t use Facebook,” she says. Despite the time and expense—staff can spend up to a month preparing and up to $50,000 for travel, flowers, food, and alcohol—the payoff, she says, is worth it: “Presentation is huge for me.”