Leviev Goes Retail

Three years ago, a Forbes magazine cover story on Russian-Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev called him the man who “took on De Beers.” Now he is taking on De Beers in a different way—by setting up his own store on Bond Street in London, just down the street from De Beers’ flagship.

The Bond Street store is the first in a planned chain that will bear Leviev’s name. It has also secured a space on 62nd Street in New York for a store slated to open this fall.

The new company includes many of the assets of the former Vivid Collection, in which Leviev was a partner (see sidebar). Its president and chief operating officer is Thierry Chaunu, a Cartier and Chopard veteran. (Leviev is chairman and chief executive officer.)

Chaunu said the new chain will specialize in diamonds and stand for “true luxury as opposed to mass luxury.” He says the chain will open in “a carefully selected list of world-class cities where you have a good clientele who appreciate very large and rare diamonds.”

Some were puzzled over the decision to name it after Leviev, who is well known only in the diamond world. But Chaunu says, “He’s a legendary name in the diamond industry. He’s extremely smart and dynamic. It’s a natural evolution, having built his business empire the way he did, to have his name on the facade.” He adds that “the clientele who really appreciate and collect large and rare diamonds know his name.”

Marketing director Celine Assimon says, “The name has the Russian flair to it. It’s great to be associated with someone who is a successful businessman.”

The store will likely mean a higher profile for the publicity-shy Leviev, who was recently rated by Forbes as the world’s 278th richest man, worth $2.6 billion, tied with Donald Trump.

This is not Leviev’s first retail venture: In 2004, he announced a strategic venture and diamond-jewelry partnership with Bulgari.