PARIS — If you ask David Gusky why the market needs another jewelry brand, he will make no bones about the fact that one often doesn’t know what one gets.
“There is a lot of jewelry that has fashion, but has no quality — or vice versa. For me, the objective was to never compromise quality; the design might not speak to everyone — that’s acceptable for me, but I wanted customers to have the opportunity to get what they are actually purchasing,” said the founder of newcomer brand Davidor.
Gusky should know: His parents have grown Aurafin into a leading gold manufacturer in the U.S., before selling it to Berkshire Hathaway Inc., chaired by Warren Buffett, in 2009.
With his own label, funded by his family, the 27-year-old Miami native is aiming directly at the end-consumer.
“The majority of the jewelry market — 90 percent — is non-branded. But I really think that there is a place for something new at this level,” he said, peering to his immediate Parisian neighbors, whose histories often span more than one century.
Gusky admitted it is a bold venture to launch a new brand in the historical heart of Paris’ jewelry district (the Davidor offices are just off the Place Vendôme). “There is competition, but it’s not a new industry for us. We were experts in gold and precious metal; we don’t need to think about where to fabricate, where to source and how to refine the metal. The new part for us is the design.”
Having spent two years on development, peeking into Italian artisan workshops, and armed with knowledge from the Gemological Institute of America and L’École Van Cleef & Arpels, Gusky said he has settled for an “open design,” meant to attract a wide demographic that can grow with the brand, and with Paris as his home base.
“Paris has exceptional hands; here, there is a strong savoir faire, it’s not a dead industry. In Italy,” he said, “economic struggles have affected labor. They are not really educating the next generation about their ancient know-how, while in France there is constant demand. Because the French brands dominate the marketplace worldwide, people are always advancing their skills,” he noted.
Davidor boasts five collections, including a fine jewelry line and high jewelry pieces. Drawing inspiration from architecture, the company has made the arch its signature and a recurring pattern. “It’s something people can relate to — it’s universal in terms of aesthetics and, structurally, provides support,” Gusky explained.
The collection of bangles, pendants, rings and earrings comes in 16 different colors of lacquer custom-made for the label; 18-karat gold, and diamonds, one of which boasts a handsome arch-cut, which the brand has patented.
Gusky says his penchant for color stems from his hometown of Miami, while the idea to use lacquer is linked to his passion for vintage cars. “The old-style painting of vintage cars was actually very similar to the feeling of lacquer, though not the same method. And it’s made with ceramic, so it’s extremely strong and durable — no wear and tear,” he assured.
The idea is to mix and match the different patterns, some of which are unisex, depending on one’s style and budget, with pieces from the brand’s main collection ranging between 750 euros, or $815 at current exchange, for a ring to 45,000 euros, or $48,884, for a large bangle.
To start raising awareness, Davidor is opening a long-term pop-up at 16 Avenue George V in Paris on Wednesday, before moving to a lavish 4,000-square-foot unit at 2 Avenue Montaigne in spring, which will be designed by RDAI architects as part of a multishop deal.
“The strategy is to open one new store per year,” Gusky said, naming London, Miami, New York, Geneva, Cannes and St. Tropez, France, as places with potential.
Plans to expand into other categories are in the works. “Today we are a luxury brand focused on fine and high jewelry; tomorrow, I hope to have brand extensions at the same level and quality that are natural to follow after jewelry — like fragrance. It’s about lifestyle,” he noted.