By  on May 8, 2006

LONDON — Leviev has made its retail debut here in an intimate store at 31 Old Bond Street.

The diamond company, which does everything from mining to jewelry design, and operates real estate, TV, oil and energy businesses, has opened a 920-square-foot store in a former Mayfair townhouse, neighboring De Beers LV, Cartier and Graff.

"London is increasingly becoming an international business hub, and it was always a center for art and good taste," Lev Leviev, 49, founder and owner, said during an interview at the store's opening late last month. "Until now, we were selling privately to clients, but they kept asking us to open stores, so here we are."

The company is known for jewels that feature white and colored gems with prices of $1 million and above. Looks include a 20-carat diamond pendant dangling from a necklace of heart-shape diamonds, rings made from rare pink and green stones, and flower designs; one ring features a fancy-cut red diamond with petals of white diamonds.

The Russian-born Leviev, who immigrated to Israel as a young man, began his career at age 16 as a diamond polisher. Today, his company is the leading exporter of polished diamonds from Israel and among the world's largest private diamond manufacturers. The firm's annual sales exceed $2.5 billion.

Leviev said his biggest buzz comes from "taking a diamond that has been lying in the earth and giving it new light and shape."

"A soul has been invested in every stone we make," he said.

The ground level of the London store, which spans two floors, boasts pleated silk walls, crystal chandeliers, a velvet sofa and sparkling showcases. Upstairs, in the private salon, there are Venetian mirrors, oak parquet floors and a white, leather-covered display table. There is also a small waiting room for a client's entourage.

Leviev's retail rollout continues in the fall with a unit slated to open at Madison Avenue and 62nd Street in Manhattan. Units are also planned for Shanghai, Moscow, Dubai and Beverly Hills.

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