De Beers Opens in Vancouver

De Beers Vancouver | BCBusiness
The Alberni Street location of De Beers Diamond Jewellers is its first and only store within Canada.

The global diamond jeweller chooses Vancouver for its first Canadian retail location

For all its “World Class City” pretension, not even the most fervent Vancouver-booster would dare compare our sleepy coastal city to New York. And yet, between the twin shadows of the Shangri-La to the west and the Plaza Hotel-like Fairmont Hotel Vancouver to the east, a proliferation of expense-account eateries and New York stalwarts such as Tiffany & Co., Brooks Brothers and a soon-to-soar Trump-branded hotel and condo tower, the retail and real-estate mix has created something of a satellite Big Apple.

The latest addition to this mini-luxe metropolis comes from De Beers Diamond Jewellers, an independently operated joint retail venture between two global heavyweights: De Beers, the South African diamond concern that, according to some estimates, controls 85 per cent of a glittering global market; and leading French luxury mega-conglomerate LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton). The latest De Beers Diamond Jewellers retail location joins more than 40 across the globe, but it’s the first—and potentially the only—bricks-and-mortar boutique in Canada.

A gem in its own right, the painfully bijou, 1,636-square-foot store at the retail pedestal of a revamped Carlyle building features De Beers’s signature “glass and light” interior decor, a living chiaroscuro painted in etched glass panels, pavé-set recessed lighting and dark-wood millwork in a contemporary take on opulent Louis XV furnishings.

So why choose Vancouver for a toe-hold in Canada rather than Toronto, which some would deem the more obvious choice?

While citing the sophistication of Vancouver’s luxury shoppers and the city’s growing reputation as a promised land for high-end retailers, general manager Kim Carmichael also says that location is a prime motivator for the company.

De Beers expects Alberni Street, the city’s epicentre of chic, to become even more of a destination shopping area. Considering that De Beers doesn’t offer Canadian consumers an e-commerce option—unlike its Fifth Ave. and Alberni Street location neighbour and international competitor, Tiffany & Co—its business model relies on in-store service and sales.

“We encourage clients to visit the store to see the beauty of our diamonds,” says Carmichael, adding that her sales associates are trained to ensure perfect selection and fit. Also available in-store is the proprietary De Beers Iris, a machine that replicates different lighting conditions and causes all eight sets of facets cut into a diamond to illuminate simultaneously.

It’s a glow they hope will draw diamond-loving buyers in.