Rapaport Magazine

Across the ocean

French jewelry maison Davidor finds a new home in Bal Harbour, Florida.

By Joyce Kauf

Not many 20-somethings from the US start a French jewelry brand and then open a flagship boutique steps from the Place Vendôme in Paris. But in 2015, then-27-year-old David Gusky officially launched Davidor, which transcends boundaries with its exquisite craftsmanship, contemporary luxury and patented diamond cut, L’Arc de Davidor.

Gusky grew up in the jewelry world; his parents were fine-jewelry manufacturers. He recalls that he was “always sketching” and knew his future endeavors would be “fueled by creativity.” While he anticipated creating a luxury brand, he admits he wasn’t 100% sure that jewelry would be his métier.

Following his graduation from Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts, Gusky explored his interest in film during a one-year stint at Creative Arts Agency, a talent agency in Los Angeles, California. After getting some marketing experience, he decided to follow his real passion: design.

An unconventional route

Starting in 2012, Gusky spent three years in Europe, first in Milan and then in Paris, focusing “strictly on the design and development of the brand and its signature collection.” He expresses profound gratitude to the people who guided him in creating his handcrafted, serial-numbered designs in Paris.

He acknowledges that he didn’t take the conventional route by starting his brand in France. “In a normal scenario, being an American, I would have produced and launched my line here [in the US] and then expanded elsewhere,” he says. Some people in Paris were also surprised, given that he was “young and not French.” Indeed, he found it “incredibly challenging” to work with some aspects of French bureaucracy.

Last year, he decided to open a boutique in Bal Harbour, Florida. “I already did the hard part, so coming to the US was easy,” he explains.

In fact, it was the native Floridian’s first choice. “I’m not a New Yorker, so I didn’t have a childhood dream of having my first store on Madison Avenue. To me, Bal Harbour represents the epitome of American luxury that captures the Davidor inspiration. It’s colorful, playful and embraces an everyday lifestyle, which is how I design.”

Prepping a pop-up

He was offered a “jewel-box space” on the second floor of the upscale Bal Harbour Shops, but construction would take months. Rather than wait, Gusky opened a pop-up on the first floor, which gave him the opportunity to introduce Davidor before the boutique’s scheduled opening this fall.

The boutique’s décor will match that of the Paris location, with floor-to-ceiling Davidor Bordeaux — the company’s signature color. “It’s our take on bordeaux, with elements of red, eggplant, brown and pink,” explains Gusky. The only other color elements in the store are from the flowers, and from the custom hues of lacquered ceramic in the jewelry.

But Gusky decided to go “a little more playful and tropical” for the pop-up. Wallpaper depicting palm-frond arches offsets the Davidor Bordeaux background for a touch of “Miami flair.” He also chose to limit the jewelry selection so as not to give the impression that the boutique was just a “supersized” version of the pop-up.

“Everything fell into place,” he says, citing the “phenomenal response” from customers. Still, the pop-up offered some launch lessons. “I learned a very crucial thing: that in a new market, you don’t just open your doors and everyone shows up.”

American expectations

One of the challenges of entering the market was learning how to “navigate the expectations of the American customer.” Davidor collections are produced in limited series. “We’re not a yesterday business. Customers understand that in Paris, but here, when I say an item will be available in six weeks, they are disappointed because they wanted it six days ago,” says Gusky.

He has also noticed a difference in the demand for men’s jewelry, which is strong in south Florida but “insignificant” in Paris. The store offers cuff links, and both the L’Arc de Davidor and L’Arc de Voyage collections include unisex designs.

In addition, American customers ask about the use of fair-trade diamonds and gold and whether the company adheres to ethical production methods. The French, in contrast, assume companies are already abiding by socially responsible practices. “It’s a given for them,” says Gusky. The fact that Davidor is certified by Joaillerie de France, which attests to the company’s strict production standards, furthers that assumption.

Gusky plans to extend the maison’s footprint in the US and internationally by opening more boutiques and adding exclusive wholesale and retail partnerships. And he’s hoping to get back to Paris to “bring more products to life.”

While he is dedicated to French craftsmanship, his approach to selling reflects his American roots. “Unlike other jewelers, we keep our doors open — literally. I want people to see our pieces and experience them. I don’t want a nose-in-the-air environment where only certain people are welcome. I don’t think that is the world we live in now. And it’s not the world I want to design jewelry for, especially at my age.” davidor.com

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - August 2021. To subscribe click here.

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Tags: Joyce Kauf