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BEVERLY HILLS — David Yurman opens today on Rodeo Drive with a 1,000-square-foot flagship and a new look for the company.

The boutique, the 10th freestanding store for the $500 million brand, features dark brown zebra wood and marble interiors and exteriors, and an elegant, Japanese-inspired aesthetic designed by architect Yabu Pushelberg.

“This is our Hollywood moment and we wanted drama,” said Yurman, who just returned from a three-week business trip and holiday in China and Japan. “We don’t have dramatic stores, so I wanted this [store] to have the glamour of walking into a great movie theater in the Thirties. Yabu did a great job working with our vision.”

That vision includes a quiet on the outside, luxe on the inside showcase for Yurman’s broadening collection, ranging from sterling silver signature pieces to platinum, to a diamond bridal collection to one-off pieces made from the designer’s personal collection of vintage and rare gemstones. In addition, the suede linings in the jewelry cases feature the company’s new packaging color: a muted blackberry.

“I worry a little about calling it blackberry, but that’s what it is,” said Yurman, a stickler for detail and design.

Only about 30 percent of the vast collection — the most directional pieces — can be displayed in the store’s three floating counters and in-wall cases. This invites customer interaction with the sales staff, who will show the rest of the collection, which is stored in trays beneath the counters.

“This store is a true flagship to our West Coast business and that intent was to create an environment for the best of David Yurman to be an icon and create a standard for our overall markets,” said chief executive officer Paul Blum, who will arrive in Los Angeles with Yurman next week to celebrate the opening with an in-store cocktail party hosted by actress Amber Valletta, followed by a private dinner at the Luxe Hotel on Thursday.

Blum added the company has seen a “huge increase in business” in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego. California accounts for 38 of the company’s 400 wholesale outlets worldwide. He declined to give dollar figures and remained mum about where the next West Coast store will be. A unit in Austin, Tex., is slated for March.

This story first appeared in the January 5, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Of course, the celebrity association in L.A. doesn’t hurt, either.

“Naomi Watts [who appears in Yurman’s ads], Eva Mendes and Kate Bosworth are just a few of the actresses who wear the jewelry personally, and that strong word of mouth really drives the business and creates demand on the West Coast,” said Blum.

But don’t expect an overhyped, overcrowded block party on Rodeo Drive next Thursday night.

“We don’t believe in big splashy openings,” Blum said. “It’s not a good strategy in general. Jewelry is a caring purchase, so it’s better to build relationships slowly. They last longer and enhance the brand.”

That includes embracing the nonfamous residents of Beverly Hills, as well as the stars, according to Yurman, who plans to spend more time in Los Angeles.

“Just seeing how regular people live and dress here has been a big influence because a lot of what we do is ‘relaxed American lifestyle,'” Yurman said. “It’s not all about the red-carpet moments, though we play there as well. It’s mostly about classic quality with a little surprise, like putting mink inside of your Levi’s jacket.”

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