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Road Trip Part 3: Aucoin Hart

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Aucoin Hart Jewelers in Metairie (just outside of New Orleans) is one of those stores I’d always wanted to visit.

The Aucoins are known as top-notch jewelers, and I knew they carried some of the country’s best-selling designers like David Yurman, Marco Bicego, Mikimoto, Penny Preville, Kwiat, and Simon G. But what I didn’t know is actually the thing that Aucoin Hart is best known for, and that’s the store’s incredible manufacturing and custom design capabilities. In fact, store president and co-owner Tommy Aucoin Jr. told me that because Aucoin Hart does all of its CAD/CAM and casting work (including platinum) in-house, branded bridal lines don’t do very well in the store — customers want an Aucoin Hart ring. “We tell clients that if they see three different rings they like, we can take the piece they like from each ring and incorporate them into the same design,” he said. “We can turn a finished piece around in a week’s time.”

&#8220 No diamond comes into the
store that’s not personally
chosen by an Aucoin. &#8221

When I visited, the store was in the second phase of a three-phase remodeling project. The first phase, a complete remodel on the back of the store, has already been completed, while the second phase includes a makeover for the store’s exterior. (Construction around the exterior façade was so extensive that I actually drove past the store, didn’t see it and had to turn around.) The third phase will remodel the showroom, but that won’t begin until after the holiday season is finished. Based on the quality of the first remodel phase, I can’t wait to see how the other two turn out.

No detail has gone overlooked in the back of the store. Windows seem to be installed everywhere so that the right people are able to see what they need to see, whether it’s through to the show floor or between particular offices. The workshop is incredible. The latest equipment and a group of master craftsmen made me feel I was walking through a wholesale manufacturer’s shop rather than a retail jeweler’s.

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One of the coolest things I heard from Tommy and his brother Ryan was that no diamond comes into the store that’s not personally chosen by an Aucoin. Ryan says they are very particular about the diamonds they buy, which can sometimes be frustrating to diamond dealers, and yet customers really appreciate it. “We love to be able to control quality and have that service for our customers,” Tommy told me.

All in all, my time at Aucoin Hart was one of the most pleasant store visits I’ve ever taken. Tommy was very accommodating and took the time to explain each aspect of their operation and the remodel. We discussed the possibility of including Aucoin Hart in INDESIGN’s “Floor Plan” section in 2013 once the floor remodel is complete, so hopefully we’ll all be seeing more of the cool things happening at this New Orleans jewelry institution.

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