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Floor Plan: Hing Wa Lee Jewelers



Floor Plan: 

Hing Wa Lee Jewelers

Twenty-two shop-in-shops, eight 80-inch video panels and a store built like a vault highlight this manufacturer-turned-retailer.

Published in the January/February 2014 issue


Nearly 50 years ago, Hing Wa Lee opened a manufacturing business in Hong Kong selling gemstone carvings and fine jewelry to the U.S. and the Far East. In October, his son David Lee, now chairman and CEO of Hing Wa Lee Group, presided over the opening of the company’s new 15,000 square-foot Europeaninspired space featuring more than 60 luxury brands and 22 “shop-in-shops.”

 “The city of San Gabriel was so excited by the concept that they hired a professor of architecture who specialized in European building styles to make sure that the ‘architectural language’ was right,” Lee says.

The interior o.ered a unique design challenge: How to make the transitions seamless between the many shop-in-shops. The store accomplishes this through a uniform look in the backdrops and showcases even as each brand maintains its own distinct imagery.

Lee, who spearheaded the movement into retail two decades ago, credits his father with the store’s inspiration. “My father passed away two years ago from cancer, and I wanted to build this store as a dedication to him. And I wanted to show the industry the passion I have to be successful in this business.”

SHOP-IN-SHOPS: “We built a big enough area where a customer can walk into each boutique and feel immersed in each brand. That takes space. How would it be if you were in a workshop in Switzerland where they’re actually working on the watches? What would it be like to look out the window and see the lake that the factory is on, and the Venetian plaster on the walls? That’s what you see in these boutiques. It’s given us a customer experience that is a whole other level from any other jewelry store. The space devoted to each brand is based on the popularity, sell-through, and size of the product line.”


24K GOLD AND JADE AREA: “In the Chinese market, 24K gold and ornaments sell very well. Because gold trades at market price, there’s also a commodity factor that’s built into that product. Jade is also popular in Chinese culture. We also sell sapphires, opals, tourmalines and other semi-precious stones. Our breadth of inventory is more diverse than most because that’s our background.”

WALLS:“We built the whole store like a vault, with lead bars and metal mesh in the walls, and as a result, product doesn’t have to be put away at night. The wear and tear on product is greatly reduced, and our opening and closing procedures take almost no time. And, the product is always displayed as it’s supposed to be displayed. Often, vendors have a particular way they like product displayed. Most jewelers can’t do this consistently because the building isn’t built with that in mind.”


EXTERIOR VIDEO PANELS: “Eight 80-inch video panels were integrated into the building’s display windows. Part of the reason was that we built the building like a vault. So because there are no real windows, we decided to use LED screens. In an actual window, no one could drive by and see product anyway because it’s so small. We can show a large image of a watch with just a little bit of movement to give it some action. And because it’s computer-controlled, we can give all of our vendors equal treatment. And if I have a big event highlighting one brand, I can have all of the windows emphasize that particular brand.”

DIAMONDS-IN-THESKY LIGHTING: “The jewelry cases are spread out throughout the middle of the store, and each case can be picked up and moved. We wanted the flexibility to remove the cases and put in tables so we can host galas. So, the central 16-foot high ceiling space uses over 100 pendant fixtures, each embedded with Swarovski crystals and set at random heights above the floor. When the jewelry cases are there, the lighting is correct, and when we move in tables, the lights act as chandeliers for the tables. Because we have two uses for the lighting, it looks like a starry sky architecturally.”




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