There was no jewelry in the window of the new David Yurman boutique on Madison Avenue for the first two weeks it was open. Instead of the designer’s trademark gold-cable bracelets and coral cocktail rings, there were cherry blossoms—real ones, not the faceted, pink-tourmaline variety. Clearly this store, called the David Yurman Townhouse, was going to be different. At first the change is marked mostly by the aesthetics and sheer size of the space: With three floors, it’s the largest Yurman boutique anywhere. The townhouse was designed by Gabellini Sheppard Associates, a firm noted for its work on flagships for Jil Sander and Vera Wang. There’s a sleek architectural look here that’s inspired by Yurman’s background as an artist (he met his wife and partner Sybil while apprenticing with sculptor Hans Van de Bovenkamp). The pieces on the first floor are classic Yurman: gold oval-link chains, silver cuffs, turquoise Albion rings. Up the spiral staircase to the second floor is the men’s line, with its malachite pendants and chronograph watches. But just the glimmer of the three-stone Colombian emerald ring that greets visitors on the third floor indicates we have entered uncharted Yurman territory. This level houses David Yurman Couture, a new collection of one-of-a-kind pieces using stones one might refer to as “important”—think 40-carat kunzites, 48-carat peridots, 24-carat purple spinels.
Yurman and his son, Evan, have long been fixtures at the annual Tucson Gem show, where they look for unusual materials (like the dinosaur bone later used in a men’s bracelet) or beautiful colors (the pale pink orbs in an oversized strand of opal beads). It was on those buying trips that the young Yurman’s gemology education began, but the stones for the Couture collection were acquired elsewhere. “Tucson’s a pleasure trip,” says Evan, 28. “It’s not where you go to find fifteen-karat Kashmirs.” As his son explains exactly how the prized Paraiba tourmaline gets its perfect green hue (it’s a matter of copper), David Yurman, who recently celebrated 30 years in the jewelry business, nods knowingly: “They talk about romancing the stone, but see, the truth is the stone romances you.”
Evan takes a pendant from a case nearby. It is a 65-carat rubellite set in color-change garnet and suspended from a black silk cord. He puts the center stone in his palm, dangles it midair, then turns it on its side. He holds it up close, then at a distance. Each angle reveals a slightly different quality in the rubellite. It’s what drew Evan to it in the first place. “I’ve been collecting stones for this line for more than three years,” he says. “Some I keep at my design studio, some I have to set immediately. This was one I worked on right away because I had to see what its color could do on a woman’s hand or draped from her neck.” He surrounded it with eight carats of color-change garnet, a gem whose hue, as its name suggests, alters depending on how light hits it. His father takes a closer look: “The garnets pick up the red in the rubellite. It’s a mystery, what happens with light. It would look completely different with black diamonds.”
The Yurmans’ fascination with colored gemstones informs the entire Couture collection. There may be a 53-carat blue tourmaline ring on a twisted cable band and a pair of rare rough aquamarine earrings, but there are no diamonds. “We are known for big, chunky color,” says David. “Plus,” his son adds, “designing diamond jewelry has been pretty well taken care of.” In the three years of planning, the younger Yurman has amassed quite an impressive roster of gems. Many have made it to the third floor of the townhouse, but there are still others, unset, waiting in Evan Yurman’s design studio on the ground floor of the company’s Vestry Street headquarters. Yurman has begun a by-appointment-only custom service where he meets privately with clients interested in creating a unique piece around such singular stones. There is a red-pink spinel that would work well, Yurman thinks, as a ring with a garland band; a 40-carat Burmese no-heat sapphire; a high-dome Mexican opal. “Turn it this way,” he instructs. “Hold it up to the light.” —Stellene Volandes
David Yurman is at 712 Madison Avenue (212-752-4255; davidyurman.com).
Madison Avenue Must-Have Jewels
New York’s legendary boulevard is now home to the world’s most beloved jewelers.
Stephen Russell Sapphire brooch, $360,000. At 970 Madison Ave. 212-570-6900
Elizabeth Locke Onyx pendant, $3,450. At 968 Madison Ave. 212-744-7878
Yael Sonia Bangles, from $14,800. At 922 Madison Ave. 212-472-6488
Cartier Diamond bracelet, price upon request. At 828 Madison Ave. 212-472-6400
DeGrisogono Multi-stone ring, $38,900. At 824 Madison Ave. 212-439-4220
Damiani Diamond pendant, $6,690. At 796 Madison Ave. 212-375-6474
Kentshire Lapis bracelet, $15,500. At 700 Madison Ave. 212-421-1100
Aaron Basha Enamel pendant, $2,800. At 680 Madison Ave. 212-935-1960
Judith Ripka Diamond cuff, $74,000. At 673 Madison Ave. 212-355-8300
Chopard Diamond earrings, price upon request. At 709 Madison Ave. 212-223-2304
Kwiat Emerald and onyx earrings, $14,100. At 725 Madison Ave. 212-725-7777
Chanel Pink sapphire brooch, $217,500. At 733 Madison Ave. 212-535-5828
Pomellato Topaz rings, $1,990 each. At 741 Madison Ave. 212-879-2118
Fred Leighton Sapphire pendant, $150,000. At 773 Madison Ave. 212-288-1872
Tamsen Z Bangles, from $59,400. At 783 Madison Ave. 212-360-7840
Solange Azagury-Partridge Emerald and ruby ring, $30,800. At 809 Madison Ave. 212-879-9100 —Shannon Adducci