BEVERLY HILLS — Graff finally has its space for a West Coast flagship.

The London-based jewelry house has signed a long-term lease on a 1,800-square-foot store at 317 North Rodeo Drive.

“This one in California is a milestone that completes our presence from the East Coast to the West,” Henri Barguirdjian, president and chief executive officer of Graff in America, said.

The Los Angeles unit comes on the heels of Graff’s announcement that it will open a 12,000-square-foot U.S. headquarters in Manhattan, on East 61st Street, and just four years after the jeweler established business operations in the U.S.

The new door here, expected to open by spring, is “going to be a full-fledged, beautiful Graff store built within the same style and tradition as the other stores around the country,” said Barguirdjian.

That means rotating display cases, a four-color marble floor, limestone pillars and the trademark lion’s head frontispiece. The exterior suggests the classic architecture of a London storefront.

This is the fifth retail space in the U.S. for the jeweler, after it opened freestanding doors in Chicago; New York; Palm Beach, Fla., and, most recently, the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas, where Graff has a 1,700-square-foot boutique.

Finally getting to Rodeo Drive was, as always, a matter of location.

“We were waiting for the right opportunity real estate-wise,” Barguirdjian said. “Vegas came to us really early after we decided to establish Graff in America. Once we established Vegas, California came very naturally as the next site.”

There are also a total of nine Graff in-store shops in Saks Fifth Avenue stores, each measuring about 300 square feet, with another anticipated to open in Boston next year.

But Graff, which industry sources say has a worldwide retail volume of about $350 million, isn’t looking to expand much further.

While Barguirdjian was willing to offer that one or two more stores in the U.S. may still open down the line, he wouldn’t say when or where.

“We want to focus on the existing stores before we do more,” he said.

This story first appeared in the October 3, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

It’s also a matter of quality, he added. For example, Graff controls 65 percent of the yellow diamonds in the world. Recently it sold one of its most distinctive, rare pieces, the Golden Star, a 101-carat fancy vivid yellow cushion-cut diamond, for more than $12 million.

“We are offering jewelry that is really high end, one of a kind,” Barguirdjian said. “So there will never be 20 Graff stores because there’s not enough resources in the world to create such precious, exclusive pieces. No way can that be done with a lot of points-of-sale.”

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