DEBOULLE’S DEBONAIR DIGS
THE RETAILER’S NEW DALLAS HOME IS AS LUXE AS THE FINE JEWELRY AND WATCHES IT SELLS.
Byline: Holly Haber
DeBoulle has a grand new home that befits its luxurious inventory. The independent fine jewelry and watch retailer last spring moved out of its tiny 1,300-square-foot shop and into a grand Mediterranean-style home with triple the jewelry inventory plus a new fine art gallery.
Reconstructed from a single-level shell for millions of dollars, the two-story pale-yellow stucco building with a slate mansard roof and residential-style interior is intended to establish deBoulle as a brand name that can draw clientele from other Texas cities and to its Web site, deboulle.com.
Within its 13,500 square feet are 24 luxury watch collections, a new gallery of estate jewelry, including 500 pieces from Fred Leighton, the store’s own precious jewelry specializing in large diamonds and a cluster of designer lines.
The luxurious new digs were made possible by the success of the 18-year-old enterprise in its nondescript former location just down Preston Road, where sales ratcheted up to $13 million last year. The new location remains in the heart of the affluent Park Cities neighborhood.
Denis Boulle, president and owner, is aiming for $20 million in sales annually. Business after 10 days in the new location had already doubled the figure for the entire month last year, he noted.
Pearls and pins have sold well, including a $45,000 strand of gold South Sea pearls and a $15,000 diamond, ruby and enamel frog pin. Trendy pave diamond hoop earrings are bestsellers, and estate pieces have been warmly received, with a dozen sold in the new store’s first 10 days, priced from $3,000 to $20,000.
“We will have the greatest selection in Dallas,” said Boulle during a tour of the new store. “We already had one of the largest collections of watches in the world. With our partnership with Fred Leighton, Dallas has never seen a collection of estate jewelry like this. It is the second largest in the country outside of Fred Leighton in New York.”
Also new to the display cases is jewelry by Alan Friedman, Krypell, Judith Ripka, Kieselstein-Cord, Mitchell Peck, Paola Ferro Gioelli, Uri Irigashi, Mariana and Daniel Bayless. DeBoulle crafts its own pieces in house with sizable stones and also carries jewels by Bulgari, Carerra & Carerra and Van Cleef & Arpels.
Harry Winston, Baume & Mercier and Parmigiani were key additions to the extensive watch collection, where the top three brands in order are Rolex, which accounts for more than $2 million in annual sales, Patek Philippe and Franck Mueller. Other top brands include Breitling, Vacheron Constantin, Techno Marine, Tag Heuer, Bertolucci and Audemars Piaget.
“We’ve always been a catchall store and that’s our strength and maybe our weakness,” reflected Boulle, a native of France who grew up in South Africa and London. “If you want a $25 sizing of a ring we’re happy to do that and if you want a $2 million necklace we’re happy and we treat you the same way.”
The store is designed to make clients feel comfortable, with a kids’ play nook and a spacious sitting area with velvet sofas, comfy chairs, a flat-screen TV and a writing desk.
Many of the decor details, including reproductions of a Louis XIII pink marble fireplace and a wrought iron gate from a 17th-century French chateau, were conceived by Gilbert Rebillet, who joined the firm last year as chief operating officer and president of the fine art division, a new business he co-owns with Boulle.
The two Frenchmen have been friends since Rebillet’s days as a divisional merchandise manager at Neiman Marcus. More recently, Rebillet was president of Escada Retail in the U.S.
“I wanted to do something I really enjoyed,” said Rebillet, who has had a passion for art since he was a child frequenting the museums of his native Paris. “I love fashion, but fashion is ephemeral beauty while fine jewelry and art is lasting beauty.”
Concentrated on the store’s second level, the art is mostly 18th- and 19th-century French and English oil paintings. Rebillet plans to emphasize Impressionist works and stage sculpture shows and book signings.
“It will be a cultural center,” he said.