By  on March 2, 2010

David Yurman is looking forward to spring-time in Paris.

The New York-based fine jewelry and timepiece firm is making its first entry into Europe with a 400-square-foot in-store boutique at Printemps in Paris that opens Thursday.

Yurman has taken the last two years to enter international markets — with more expansion planned — building on its foothold within stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus, as well as 15 of its own boutiques across the U.S. Yurman opened four shops in Asia last year and entered Russia with an in-store boutique at Moscow retailer Tsum. Company executives believe expansion in Europe will bolster sales significantly.

“The French culture of craftsmanship and design made a lasting impact on me and continues to influence my work,” said Yurman, who recalled his first apprenticeship working for sculptor Jacques Lipschitz. “I appreciate their design aesthetic and attention to detail, so when the time came to expand our brand into Europe, it only seemed natural to do so in France — the epicenter of luxury.”

Yurman, who will be in Paris for the opening with his wife and company co-founder Sybil, and their son, Evan, said he chose Printemps because it is the first department store in France to devote an entire floor to fine jewelry.

Printemps, which recently completed a $100 million storewide renovation, carries myriad top jewelry and watch brands — from major players such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co. and De Beers to niche specialists like Pomellato and H. Stern.

“David Yurman is a brand that brings fashion, but also artistic elements to jewelry,” said Paolo de Cesare, chief executive officer of Printemps, who named Cartier, Chanel, De Beers and Tiffany as the retailer’s top-selling jewelry brands.

Printemps has made a major investment in jewelry and watches. In the past decade, the retailer has tripled that segment of the business, which now comprises 5 percent of overall sales.

“The price points are very sharp,” de Cesare said of the Yurman brand, which offers not only gold jewelry, but also signature silver pieces inlaid with diamonds and other gems. “The consumer will buy David Yurman because it’s...breaking the rules of the traditional European jewelers.”

The bronzed, mirrored, African zebra wood-dotted shop, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, will feature the full breadth of Yurman’s categories, including gold and silver jewelry and watches, bridal, fragrance, eyewear and men’s wear. Key items are the signature twisted Cable bracelets that are bestsellers in the U.S.

“We’re an American brand and we’re an American team…yet we’re evolving to play on the worldwide stage in Paris,” said Yurman ceo Paul Blum, who added London would be the next European stop for the firm.

Blum anticipates selling more gold in Europe than in the U.S.

“They appreciate the intrinsic value of the metal and they’re still investing in it,” said Blum, who added that the Asian consumer is more drawn to gold than silver, as well.

The company plans a new in-store shop at Saks’ Manhattan flagship, in addition to opening new a David Yurman boutique on Madison Avenue in April. The agenda also includes additional stores in Asia, notably Macau, where the company has one boutique.

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