By  on April 13, 2005

NEW YORK — In a market overwrought with glitz, the Graff jewelry store in Las Vegas will seem a world apart.

Graff takes the high road with an airy, elegant space distinguished by a graceful, curved, glass facade and Parisian vitrines detailed like jewel boxes. The 1,700-square-foot store is to open April 27 in the new Wynn Resort, where there will be a luxury complex of 30 retailers.

The decision to be part of the Wynn Resort “was almost a no-brainer,” said Henri Barguirdjian, president and chief executive officer of Graff in America. “Wynn will be the most luxurious resort in Las Vegas. We’re in great company,” considering Graff is situated between Chanel and Louis Vuitton and near Dior.

While continuing with the classic elements of other Graff stores — limestone pillars, the trademark lion’s head frontispiece, rotating display cases and the four-color marble floor — the Las Vegas site represents a modern interpretation. It is the first Graff store in a mall setting and not situated on a major avenue. That has required the company and its architects to be extra creative as they seek to balance the Graff heritage within the nontraditional venue.

The store’s 40-foot-wide facade will have a glowing effect, stemming from the illuminated jewelry vitrines inside. The facade, which affords a wide view of the interior, is both transparent and translucent, with the glass etched to look like stone, reminiscent of the signature stone facades at other Graff locations.

Other signature visual elements at the Las Vegas store are the center medallion with a compass point on the marble floor, the freestanding plaster columns and the intricate crown moldings. There are nine standing vitrines, each 4 1/2 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. There are also six wall vitrines, 2 by 2 feet.

Graff operates three other freestanding stores in the U.S., in Palm Beach, Chicago and New York. There are eight others in Europe and Asia, including one in London, where the company is based. Barguirdjian said the company is seeking a fifth U.S. location, possibly in Beverly Hills, Calif.

There are also Graff boutiques in nine Saks Fifth Avenue stores, each encompassing about 300 square feet. Additional in-store boutiques are planned for Saks in Atlanta and San Antonio this year, and Graff is buying a building in midtown Manhattan for a new U.S. headquarters and for manufacturing.“We still have a long way to go in the U.S., though we’ll never have 50 or 60 points of sale simply because there’s just not enough fine diamonds to supply them,” Barguirdjian said. “We’re not even four years old in America. We are a new brand, but we are being very well received by the American public.”

Graff has a worldwide retail volume of about $350 million, industry sources said.

Aside from its distinctive retail settings, Graff is best known for its exquisite diamonds, particularly yellow diamonds, and for being vertically integrated from the mining process to the cutting of diamonds to the manufacturing and retailing of the jewelry. The company controls 65 percent of the yellow diamonds in the world. Graff has 300 cutters in Johannesburg processing 12,000 carats a month.

Graff wouldn’t hesitate to create a ring utilizing a 45-carat diamond that would more typically be for a necklace, but the ring is created with a minimum amount of metal to emphasize the diamond.

The average sale in a freestanding Graff store is $200,000, while the average Graff sale at a Saks door is $35,000, Barguirdjian said. The bulk of the assortment retails for around $50,000 for three or three-and-a-half carats. There are also $25,000 diamond watches.

Among the most popular pieces are the charm bracelets, priced at $125,000, and bull’s-eye earrings for $75,000, though prices can go as high as $4 million for a rare blue diamond. Virtually everything sold is one of a kind.

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