DOUBLE THE DIAMONDS: Vashi, the diamond jewelry brand that allows customers to design their own rings and other jewels, has planted a flag at 13a Grafton Street in London, not far from rivals such as De Beers, Boodles, Mappin & Webb, Cartier and Tiffany & Co., which are all located on or around Bond Street in Mayfair.
The 1,000-square-foot store is a five-minute walk from Vashi’s Piccadilly flagship and features an on-site jewelry workshop, a diamond-shaped work surface for collaboration with jewelers and client consultation spaces.
It’s smaller than the unit at 46 Piccadilly, which spans 1,500 square feet over two floors, but at a party this week to mark the opening, founder and chief executive officer Vashi Domínguez said the store serves a specific purpose. “Here, we attract the Bond Street customer. There’s not a big customer overlap with the Piccadilly store.”
Such is the diversity of central London shopping that certain neighborhoods, even if they border each other, can attract a different clientele. Piccadilly is more about tourists and locals, while Grafton Street attracts ultra-high-net-worth individuals and big-spending foreigners.
Although the stores’ addresses are different, Vashi’s approach is the same: Domínguez, whose background is in diamond wholesale and retail e-commerce, wants his customers to take part in the process of design — and also get a good deal on their diamonds.
As reported, Vashi’s prices are about 50 percent lower than Tiffany & Co.’s and 30 percent less than the big British high-street chains such as Ernest Jones and Goldsmiths, for similar quality diamonds.
At Vashi, customers can examine rocks under a microscope — no tweezers or white gloves required — and play around with stones and settings. They are able to create mood boards in-store or hand the Vashi jewelers drawings and have something made to order. Jewelry can be engraved with writing, images and even children’s fingerprints.
Customers can also take an active part in the process of putting the jewelry together and even set stones in rings. The jewel-making process can be live-streamed for customers who can’t make it to the shop. At the end of the process, Vashi assembles coffee-table books filled with images of the design process.
“This is all about accessible luxury,” said Domínguez, who has teamed with James McArthur, the investor and longtime luxury goods executive, on the retail concept.