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A Cut Above

This Long Island store is devoted to its own diamond brand.

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Devotion, Garden City, NY

OWNER: Perry Sporn; URL:devotiondiamonds.com; FOUNDED: 1981; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION: 2012; LAST RENOVATED: 2014;EMPLOYEES: 21; AREA: 850 square feet


FOR PERRY SPORN, the key to a unique selling proposition is all about Devotion — Devotion being the name of his branded diamond jewelry as well as the store that sells it.

Each Devotion diamond — not just the center stone — has a patented cut, down to a half point diamond. The Devotion round has 70 facets.

“I’ve experimented with different patterns to find stones that are more beautiful,” Sporn says. “I love seeing the difference in the crystal formation of the diamonds. It comes from all of my years of curiosity and experimentation. We have always manufactured our own jewelry and we cut diamonds.”

The artistry of the settings is inspired by the craftsmanship tradition in Vermont, where the jewelry is made. Every engagement ring is a limited-edition design with a unique serial number.

“It’s priced similar to any of the known bridal lines in the industry, but it’s more like a luxury brand in how it’s finished.” It’s labor intensive, from the setting and finishing to the engraving.

Devotion jewelry is sold at Sporn’s other retail locations — Perrywinkle’s Fine Jewelry stores in Vermont, New York and Quebec — and by several additional retail partners. Sporn expects the line to grow organically.
Sporn and company use all of their marketing tools — traditional and digital — to tell the story of quality.

But the story is not always easy to tell in the New York market, where there’s a lot of competition from established brands.

“But the patented cut is significantly different,” Sporn says. “We love it when our product can be right next to the luxury brands, because it looks so much nicer than those products, but it’s priced less. We don’t present it as a discounted luxury brand, but the price is disruptive. For early adapters, the story is very obvious to them.”

The store is equal parts selling environment and showcase for potential future retail partners.

The Space

Vermont-style artistry is also on exhibit in the Long Island store itself.

Vermont artist Kat Clear is best known for large outdoor sculptures. For Devotion, she created hand-wrought iron periwinkle vine sculptures that are incorporated into the store’s design. Devotion jewelry artists also worked with Clear to create a line of jewelry inspired by her sculpture.

African rosewood gently curves around the space with soft lines guiding clients to museum-like showcases.

The store is designed to put the focus on the customer. Sporn collaborated with lifelong friend and architect Grouch Benzel, a “creative genius” who came out of retirement to design Devotion. “It’s very symbiotic in how we think. As I described the rooms in the center and the museum atmosphere, he just got it,” Sporn says.

“We built two viewing rooms in the center of the store, which are very sumptuous and private and comfortable, and the store surrounds it,” Sporn says. “The customer can see it’s not about a sales person standing behind a showcase. It’s about sitting and getting to know the customer.”

That approach can startle a jaded New York client, who tends to be suspicious of retail environments.

“It looks more like a fine spa,” Sporn says. “That Vermont sensibility of wanting to get to know someone is very unique to that market.”

The store is also a flagship and as such, serves as an example of how Sporn wants the Devotion brand to be presented.

Devotion is set up to show off the full Devotion line while also inspiring future retail partners to understand what that particular selling environment should be like.

The selling environment includes thoughtful consideration of how a purchase fits into the customer’s life.

“So aside from learning about that customer and getting to know them even outside the store, we make partnerships with other vendors who are important to them.”

One such partnership is with Paparazzi Proposals, a company that takes pictures of surprise proposals.

The store is set up to show off the Devotion diamond, each one with a patented cut. The Devotion round has 70 facets.

“We want to make sure we understand what it means to be a woman when she first sees the ring, to try to do things to create an experience of the whole engagement and the whole wedding, which becomes an important part of the family for life,” Sporn says. “It’s important to not just talk about diamonds but to know what is important to them about the jewelry.”

Lofty Goals

Sporn learned early on what is important about jewelry.

As a college kid in upstate New York, Sporn worked at a jewelry store to avoid taking out college loans.

“What hooked me was that people didn’t view jewelry as just a consumer item, a widget or something to buy. There’s an emotional connection. More so for women, it was a connection to who they were in love with, and a statement about how they felt about themselves. I realized early on that most people in the business didn’t treat it that way. They focused on ‘I’ll give you a deal.’ That didn’t even relate to what motivated people to want to buy jewelry and to wear it.”

Like many a kid hooked on jewelry, he didn’t quite finish college — he quit 12 credits shy of a degree — but instead followed his love into starting his own business.

Now, as a designer, manufacturer and multi-store retailer, Sporn focuses on “developing beautiful product and supporting the amazing, talented people in the company who want to build their future with us.
“We’re dominant in our market, because we never forgot what it took on Day 1.”

While his key professional goal is to establish Devotion as the luxury brand for a new generation, he has set his sights on an even more lofty personal goal.

“I’m going to outer space,” he says.

Sporn, a pilot with a passion for travel, has a seat reserved on a Virgin Galactic flight into space in 2017.

Five Cool Things About Devotion

1. Platinum Upgrades. During certain times of the year Devotion offers an upgrade to platinum. “The line is 18K or platinum and we encourage people to experience platinum,” Sporn says. “We would like to see a high percentage move from 18K white to platinum.”

2. Cancer Canknot Jewelry Partnership. Perry Sporn partnered with Anna and Eric Gilcris to manufacture a line of jewelry called Cancer Canknot, which uses the cancer ribbon symbol tied with a knot. Eric was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011 and he and his wife, Anna, designed the jewelry. Money raised benefits organizations involved in cancer research.

3. Custom Concept. Devotion has 100 custom orders in a queue at any one time. “The design of the jewelry is thoughtful and incredibly detailed, but we do allow it to be customizable,” Sporn says.

4. Hiring the Like-Minded. Devotion has a very specific culture. “The main thing we look for is someone who is all about how they relate to a customer,” Sporn says. “So often you see people who may have great skill sets but not a warmth and a connection and an appreciation for getting to know customers. That’s the key for us, that’s what’s allowed us to grow.”

5. Diamond Grade Guarantee. If an internationally recognized gemological lab (GIA, EGL, IGI, or AGS) assigns a lower grade than what is stated in a customer’s certified Devotion diamond, Devotion will pay the customer $10,000 in cash and provide, in place of their diamond, a diamond with a comparable certificate from one of the labs.

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Partner with Photographers

Sporn partners with Paparazzi Proposals, a company that documents the proposal with professional (surprise) photography. (paparazzi-proposals.com)

Marketing Focus: Emotions

For too many people in the industry, the message is ‘I’ll give you a deal,’ says Sporn. In contrast, Devotion’s focus in its marketing and in-store dealings is on what motivates people to buy jewelry: emotion.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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