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Finalist-ACS 2003 - Molina Fine Jewelers

Upscale luxury with a lavish attention to detail.



Molina Fine Jewelers, Phoenix, AZ

OWNER: Alfredo Molina; DESIGNERS: Wolfgang Klein; PROJECT COST: $5 million; ADDRESS: 3134 East Camelback Road Phoenix, AZ 85016; PHONE: (602) 955-2055, (800) 257-2695; DESIGN ADVICE: “Always keep in mind the comfort of your clients. All too often store designers want to display the maximum amount of merchandise and, unfortunately, the quality of space and comfort is often secondary to optimum space utilization.”

BRINGING OLD WORLD elegance to a modern city like Phoenix through the medium of a bank with a drive-through teller definitely seems something of an undertaking. But Alfredo Molina, driven by his dream to create a salon that would rival those in Paris, was up to the challenge.

Today Molina Fine Jewelers is a testament to his vision, single-mindedness, and his strong commitment to his ultra-luxe brand. And all this was inspired by a model of a jewelerʼs salon which Molina bought in Paris.

Molina acquired the space, on Phoenixʼs exclusive Camelback Road, for $374,000 in 1992, and set to overhauling the old bank, ripping out the glass and chrome, and converting the drive-through. To create a classic look, stucco with hand-carved stone was used. Landscaping work led to a garden area with a fountain, façade, and flowers. Finally, the salon was expanded as part of a $4 million project to take over three levels, with a real copper dome on top.


The designer, Austrian architect Wolfgang Klein, lent his classical European expertise to the project to create an atmosphere that is sophisticated yet welcoming. The 8,000-square foot store contains several private salons where salespeople meet with clients. Molina says, “People warned me that private offices used for selling jewelry in our salon wasnʼt the best use of space, but itʼs consistent with the shopping experience we want to offer customers: a comfortable and private experience as if they were buying jewelry at someoneʼs home.” Few people could claim to have a home like this, however, boasting miles of Honduran mahogany, antique furniture, beautiful works of art including original Rembrandts, and perhaps the piéce de resistance, a 2,000-pound chandelier from the Versailles period, which was converted from candlelight to electricity without damaging its beauty. As well as the private selling rooms, thereʼs a main selling floor which is open to the public, and, in the basement, around 20 bench jewelers carry out custom work and repairs. To complete the experience, Molina Fine Jewelers offers Godiva chocolate and Don Pérignon champagne to shoppers who arrive to soak up the luxury.

The majority of the panel would love to enter Alfredoʼs realm of Old World luxury. Fred approves of the storeʼs brand, saying, “This store does an excellent job of catering to its high-end, appointment-only clientele and the general public, all under one roof. And it looks like those bench jewelers — all five of them — are busy.” He also gives the store his personal seal of approval: “If I lived in Phoenix, and had the bucks, Iʼd head over to Molina.” Penny also awards the store high marks. “Despite the vast size, it feels like someoneʼs parlor. Exquisitely done, but they donʼt make themselves out of reach to ʻregular peopleʼ.” Debbie, too, rates Molina highly, calling the salon “regal and plush.” Brett and RoxAnna are not so enamoured of the storeʼs plushness, and offer lower marks for Molina. RoxAnna also offers some design advice: “The center area seems a bit confusing in terms of fixture layout.”




When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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