The Venerable South Florida Brand Has a New Look, Launched in the Gables
By J.P. Faber
What Al Rahm wanted to do was get rid of the islands. “That’s the old way of selling jewelry,” he says. “I wanted people to flow. See how much open space I left?”
Rahm makes a sweeping gesture across the 5,500 square feet of the new Mayors flagship store in the Shops at Merrick Park. As the executive VP of Mayors in charge of new build-outs – as well as all of their high-end jewelry – Rahm is justifiably proud of the new, spacious look and feel of what amounts to Mayors reinventing itself.
The Coral Gables store is the first of seven “flagships” – redesigns and expansions of company outlets in Florida and Georgia, almost half their total of 15 stores. The idea, says Rahm, is to create “zones” where a customer can comfortably move between watches and jewelry, between exclusive lines from famous designers and those created by Mayors itself.
The first zone, by the entrance, features watches by the two anchor brands Rolex and Cartier. The middle zone is a flexible and changing retail space for Mayors jewelry (including lines designed exclusively for them) and other watch brands like Breitling and Tag Heuer. The final zone features displays of bridal and “high” jewelry – i.e. the ultra-expensive.
“We put a huge amount of thought into this,” says David Hurley, executive VP of The Watches of Switzerland Group USA, the stateside division of the UK-based luxury watch company that bought Mayors in 2017. “There are a lot more areas for people to sit and relax, to hang out. We want people to spend time in our stores, to talk about watches, to look at some wonderful jewelry, and perhaps have a drink while they are getting a watch repaired.”
Yes, have a drink; in his flagship design, Rahm included a cozy bar in the final zone, where customers can get a coffee or a cocktail.
The Watches of Switzerland Group is betting that, when it comes to something as important as jewelry, customers still want the experience of seeing things up close and personal rather than online. “People say retail
is dying. We don’t feel that way. But it is changing,” says Hurley. “What we thought we could add to the business was investing in the stores, and in the training [of staff],”he says.“We are not just competing with other luxury jewelry stores. We are competing with luxury holidays and restaurants. We are competing with the luxury experience.”
The other thrust of the new store design is its fresh emphasis on jewelry. This is a return, of sorts, because Mayors was founded as a jewelry store in 1911. Only in recent years has it followed the industry trend toward luxury watches, which last year made up 70 percent of sales at Mayors. “We were a jewelry store first, a watch store after,” says Rahm. “For the last 20 years, the growth in our industry has been watches, especially on the Rolex side of it, the Cartier side,” he says. “But I myself am a curator. I love fine jewelry. It’s like art.”
The result, says Hurley, is that “on the jewelry side we have invested a huge amount in high jewelry – in one of a kind, one-off pieces, and also exclusive lines.”
At the recent grand opening of the new Mayors, Rahm was only too happy to show off some of the exclusive lines and pieces. “Everything here [in the third zone] is $15,000 to $2 million [for a diamond necklace]. This is true high jewelry, which no one is doing anymore,” he says. In one case sits a 22-carat diamond ring selling for $1 million. Nearby is an $800,000 yellow diamond ring. On the lower end of the scale, a glowing sapphire ring is selling for a mere $18,000.
Among the exclusive collections at Mayors is a colorful and contemporary line by Miami native (now New York-based) jewelry designer Pamela Love; a special Roberto Coin collection of designs in heavy, 18-carat gold; and Messika jewelry, the latest work by Valerie Messika of Paris. “It’s one of the newest brands in the world,” says Rahm. “Beyoncé put on a ring and earrings of hers and it went viral. We introduced her [Messika] five years ago. Now she is gigantic.”
Mayors | Shops at Merrick Park | 342 San Lorenzo Ave. #1000 | 305.446.1233 | Mon – Sat: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sun: Noon – 6 p.m.