Connect with us

Future Shop

For inspiration, William Boyajian and his architect started with a piece of agate and one thought: what would a jewelry store look like in years to come?

Published

on

Port Royal Jewelers, Naples, FL

URL: portroyaljewelers.com; OWNER: William Boyajian; FOUNDED: 1991; RENOVATED FEATURED LOCATION: 2012; BUILDOUT COST: $300,000; AREA: 1,200 square feet; ARCHITECT: Jonathan Titus of Naples, FL; EMPLOYEES: 4


WHEN IT CAME TIME for custom jewelry designer William Boyajian to refresh his Naples, FL, store, he wanted to catapult straight into the future.

“We discussed what it would be like if you were in the far future and walked into a jewelry store,” Boyajian says, of his meeting with architect Jonathan Titus of Naples.

But first they explored common creative ground. Boyajian knew he wanted to break with tradition but he had not locked into a look yet. Because he knew he wanted the store designed around showcases and lighting, he sketched five different showcase designs he wanted incorporated in the store.

Once completed, he handed Titus the sketches.

He also handed him a piece of agate.

“I said this is your inspiration piece,” Boyajian recalls.

Because it was rough around the edges and smooth and polished through the center, the agate became a metaphor for rough to smooth and unfinished to polished aspects of the store design as well, Titus says.

The smartest thing, Boyajian did, he says, was to choose his architect wisely. “You’ve got to go with a person who appreciates your style aesthetic,” Boyajian. “I told them I liked rounded surfaces, modern design and clean lines. I showed them a tray of agate for a color palette. And I said, ‘Now go for it.’ I really trusted them. I liked their work. If you really want to kill something artistically, you’ll put all these conditions on it. Instead I said, ‘This is who I am; you design for me.’ So we didn’t fight over anything.”

Titus says working successfully with an architect is largely about chemistry. “We design for our clients, we try to soak that in and give them back something they are really looking for that is more them than us,” Titus says. “We don’t often get clients who allow us to think freely about design, so it did make for a fun project. William certainly untied our hands in that regard.”

Advertisement

One of Boyajian’s few specific requests was for a circular office that would serve as his design room. It became the heart of the operation.

“We looked at that circular room as the center of William’s universe from a design standpoint and we thought, let’s use that as a way to play off of concentric circles that expand his space into the store,” Titus says. “His store is all about him — not in an egotistical way — but because of his designs and his creativity.”

Because the space was long and narrow, Titus’ most fundamental challenge was to draw the eye toward the back of the store, while making that visual journey interesting.

High ceilings toward the front of the store create volume and the ceiling takes on cloud shapes, while toward the back or heart of the store — where Boyajian designs jewelry in his circular office — it’s more intimate, with lower ceilings.

Boyajian’s desire for a circular office led to the concept of the store as a clockwork, with the whole store springing off and revolving around the central circular room.

“The ceiling clouds radiate off of that, the circular walls radiate off of that and the idea of having a focal point in the ceiling that meets you at the front door and takes you back to his space, radiates off of that, too,” Titus says. “It leads you back to where the creative designs are flowing in the center of the store.”

Taking the metaphor of the clock further, Titus designed a desk and light fixture in the office to look like gears — mechanisms that symbolically turn everything that happens in the store. In a literal sense, from Boyajian’s computer, design information is disseminated to the showroom and his work is displayed on a screen.

Offering a one-of-a-kind jewelry store to his clients is symbolic, Boyajian believes, of what he himself can offer as a custom jewelry designer. “I wanted to make it an experience,” he says. “I wanted to make it unique. When they see the store, clients understand that I know what it means to have a custom piece thought out especially for them, and not just assembled.”

Advertisement

The layout of the small store is surprisingly versatile. Not only can Boyajian’s open office be transformed into a private conference room, but the door between two adjacent showrooms can be closed, creating a private showroom experience for exclusive customers, away from the entrance. Doors fold open and closed, snaking along the circular walls to save space.

Every detail is considered, from the selection and placement of each mid-century modern chair from Boyajian’s private collection, to the sculptures and other artwork used as in-case displays to create a layered, museum-quality look. The Temple Guardian statue that stands in one corner of the showroom is well over 400 years old, and has looked over Boyajian and his store since it opened in 1991. It was a gift from his parents.

From the subtle glitter in the paint to the futuristic in-case LED lighting, the store is aglow.

Finding His Niche

The Boyajian family jewelry business began in 1905 in Manhattan with a focus on antiques. Later, the family moved into manufacturing.

Boyajian, a third-generation jeweler, was only about 6 years old when he became interested in his father Leo’s gem and jewelry business in California. He was intrigued by the gemstones. “I used to sit on the lapidary’s lap and watch how they cut the gemstones,” he says.

Leo bought a second home in Naples, FL, and opened a small shop there with a focus on high-end gemstones; in the 1960s, the family decided to move there full time.

Boyajian graduated from design school in California with job offers, but also with a case of wanderlust. After working for a time as chief jewelry designer in Thailand for the family business, he returned to Naples, where he agreed to be a partner with a friend in a retail operation. “I started designing things for people and I never stopped,” he says, ultimately buying his partner out of the business.

These days, most of Boyajian’s clients are looking for jewelry that starts at about $20,000 (10-carat diamonds are the new 5s here), although he has entry-level price points, too.

“We do our best to create high quality for people within their budget,” he says. “But most of our clients are jet-setters. It feels great that they come back to Naples and choose to work with me.”

Although he works primarily with existing clients, Boyajian likes to have the opportunity to educate walk-in visitors on good design and the importance of quality. And every season in Naples provides the opportunity for a fresh group of clients to discover the store and become loyalists. Splashy events on Fifth Avenue draw customers to the store, too — a Ferrari show, a Christmas parade, Fourth of July festivities.

All customers, old and new, are treated to the full unique Port Royal experience. “We don’t ever want to be like someone else,” Boyajian says. “Be who you are. Success will flow out of that.”

PHOTO GALLERY (11 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About Port Royal Jewelers

1. THEY GO ALL OUT FOR CHARITY. Every piece Port Royal donates to local charities is high quality and custom-made. When the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples turned 50 the same year that Boyajian celebrated his 50th birthday, he honored the convergence by donating a 4.82 carat cushion-cut, fancy yellow, internally flawless diamond for the Conservancy’s live auction. It helped raise over $1.3 million in one night.

2. IT’S A GREEN STORE. A store of the future has to be about conservation,” Boyajian says. The store features reclaimed wood floors (white oak from Canada that’s been stained black). Other green features: a Nest programmable thermostat that has cut the electric bill in half; LED lights; the Stealth, an ultra-efficient low-flow toilet; and hand dryers instead of paper towels. Boyajian also uses 100-percent recycled gold and platinum and non-conflict diamonds and gemstones.

3. SIGNATURE SCENT Port Royal worked extensively with a French company to develop a signature scent — a combination of very light floral undertones with overtones of being near the ocean — that would remind customers of Naples. The scent had to be very feminine, since 90 percent of customers are women or buying jewelry for women. The scent’s development also involved research about local flowers.

Advertisement

4. PARTNERED PROMOTIONS Port Royal likes to co-brand with other luxury brands and get involved in local charity events to boost its profile. They teamed up with Italian yacht brand Reva, for example, on a photo shoot, with models wearing Port Royal jewelry and posing on Reva yachts.

5. INVENTIVE EVENTS Inspiration for events often comes from community involvement. An event with the American Red Cross featured a James Bond theme. Guests observed the “funky cocktail attire” dress code, appearing in bow ties and gold lame. Martinis were on the menu, of course, and sapphires were given away. A crowd of about 75 attended.

Try This

A coffee-table book

The Port Royal team is photographing its more unique pieces and compiling them into a coffee-table book, not as a catalog with pricing, but a hardcover book with large photos depicting rough castings to final displays. They’ll include historical photos about the family and interesting stories along the way.

A Appointments preferred

“A lot of people make appointments to come in; that’s best because then we can be prepared,” Boyajian says. “If they like a certain type of champagne or coffee, we make sure we have that available. If they like opera, it’s playing on the sound system when they arrive. We make a commitment to understanding the client. It’s a lot easier to please individuals than trying to please everyone.”

Build holiday goodwill

Store events are usually not about selling on the spot. The holiday party, for example, is a good time to check something out or try it on, but it’s more about starting off the holiday season, and being with friends and family. Boyajian says guests usually circle back a few days later to make a purchase, “but we have had people go mad over things and buy right then.”

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

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

Wilkerson Testimonials

Wilkerson Helped This Jeweler to Navigate His Retirement Sale Despite a Pandemic

Hosting a going-out-of-business sale when the coronavirus pandemic hit wasn’t a part of Bob Smith’s game plan for his retirement. Smith, the owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers in Chillicothe, Ohio, says the governor closed the state mid-way through. But Smith chose Wilkerson, and Wilkerson handled it like a champ, says Smith. And when it was time for the state to reopen, the sale continued like nothing had ever happened. “I’d recommend Wilkerson,” he says. “They do business the way we do business.”

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular