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Ylang-Ylang Fine Jewelry

In search of Americaʼs most unique jewelry retail businesses...




Ylang-Ylang Fine Jewelry, St. Louis, MO

OWNERS: Ylang-Ylang Fine Jewelry; ADDRESS: 81 Plaza Frontenac St. Louis, MO 63131; PHONE: (314) 567-5555; FAX: (314) 993-4669

IN 1985, while in search of an innovative jewelry concept, Ray and Lois Morganstern discovered Ylang-Ylang in Bal-Harbour, Florida. Loving the storeʼs style, the couple licensed the concept — although they wanted to change from the original Ylang-Ylangʼs emphasis on European high-end jewelry to selling original jewelry from cutting-edge designers. The coupleʼs vision gradually flowered — like the orchid from the Philippines that serves as the storeʼs namesake —into a unique boutique combining classic interior features offset by contemporary furniture and bright watercolor paintings. With the help of their daughter and son-in-law the “family project” has made their store feel much like their second home … for employees as well as customers. Lois Morganstern tells us about Ylang-Ylang:

Whatʼs are the most unique features of the store?

The most unique feature would have to be our “jewelry bar”. Itʼs the most grand display case in our store. Itʼs a lovely cherry wood and glass and is where we keep jewelry from our top designers. We go to great lengths in researching the designers we carry in our store and the “jewelry bar” is the focal point in our store to display such fine jewelry. On the wall nearest the jewelry bar is a watercolor painting of a two-flower blossom. (Ylang-Ylang is a scent from a tree in the Philippines used in many products such as soaps, perfumes and candles.) So the many flower paintings are part of the intrigue of the store and its name. The largest painting itself is framed on the wall by one of the storeʼs arches. As you enter the store with all the elegance it has our customers still enjoy that it has the true warmth of a Mom-and-Pop type of store.


Describe the storeʼs interior.

The store is a mixture of traditional elements, such as crown molding and contemporary features, namely the furniture. To create a warm and friendly shopping experience the color scheme is a combination of light and dark. Throughout the store we have original paintings — mainly of flowers. There are small sitting areas with tables for customers to sit and relax for a longer period of time. One really nice feature of the store is the 16-foot high ceiling with track lighting, which illuminates the store and display cases.

Who undertook the design of the store?

My daughter Julie and her husband Loren did most of the interior design. Julie has a degree in communications and definitely has creative ideas. As it was a family project, my husband and I worked very closely with them to create the look we envisioned.

Were there any specific requirements when it came to converting the shop into a jewelry store?

We tried to keep what interior design elements we could from the previous store. Some design elements absolutely had to go — including the pink and turquoise color scheme that was the original color and concept of the original Ylang-Ylang. The two elements that stayed were the arches and the pillars which we easily worked into our vision of the store. The bright white color and corner location with two sides of open glass certainly enhances the visibility to customers.The shop only measures 1,200 square feet. Once you walk through the door the entire store opens up and creates a euphoric feeling that has been recreated in the designs and precious gems found only in Ylang-Ylang jewelry. So much thought had to be given to the interior design, namely the display cases, that my daughter and son-in-law contracted an Illinois-based case maker, Woodmasters. The “Jewelry Bar” is the most impressive of all cases in terms of size and beauty, making it the focal point of the store. We often hear there is not another store like us in St. Louis.


Do you think the unique appearance of the store helps sales?

Yes, I think it does. The storeʼs interior design elements come together to create the warmth that goes with high-end jewelry. We carry fine jewelry designers such as Beaudry, Barry Kronin, Jude Frances, Hidalgo, Alan Friedman and Leslie Greene. With such a careful and thoughtful selection of fine jewelry, it is very important that we convey a high-end look that is consistent with the jewelry, but always on the cutting edge and exclusive in many ways.

What do you like most about the store? and least?

I like the storeʼs feeling with bright elements that arenʼt overwhelming. We spent a lot of time to reflect on our own tastes in creating the ambiance of the store. When we greet people, itʼs like welcoming them into our own home. Customers initially walk into the store; we take them on a quick tour much like we do when someone visits our home for the first time. It would be nice to have more space, therefore we are constantly thinking to creatively work within the space that we have.

Any changes planned for the future?

We are considering the possibility of painting one wall in a vibrant color and changing that color, perhaps seasonally. And of course, a private room in which we can sit with our customer, relax, design, and create that special piece of jewelry.




When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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