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DIAMONDS ON THE BEACH: Jeweler Todd Reed has signed a lease for a shop on hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach, Calif. Opening some time in the fourth quarter of 2014, it will be the designer’s only store outside his home base in Boulder, Colo.
“We’re really focused on the U.S. right now,” said Reed, while showing $6 million in rough diamond and colored-stone jewelry Wednesday at Ylang 23 in Dallas. Reed, whose client list reads like Who’s Who of business and entertainment, operates an airy contemporary boutique in Boulder that’s separated from his workshop by bulletproof glass, a clear wall of water and tropical plants. It was designed by naturalist architect Mike Moore of Tres Birds so that bench jewelers and staff could work in a pleasant environment with natural light.
All Reed’s pieces are one of a kind, and the self-taught jeweler believes he was the first American designer to use rough diamonds back in 1992. “In 1994 I went to my first craft show in Ann Arbor, Michigan,” he recalled. “I took 75 rough diamond rings and I sold 75 rough diamond rings.”
He began placing his work in galleries including the Corcoran, Renwick and Aaron Faber and 10 years ago in fashion stores such as Joyce and Mitchells. Designer jewelry specialist Ylang 23 picked it up about four years ago, especially to cater to the market for alternative bridal rings. Reed’s annual sales now register in the tens of millions, according to account manager Kim Carpenter.
“The recession was our launching pad,” Reed said. “In 2008 when people were retracting, we put $1 million into advertising in Town & Country, Veranda, in-flight magazines, billboards. People got really excited because they had never seen it before. I hear from guys all the time, ‘I don’t know why my wife wants your stuff, but she does.’ Men have been trained to buy jewels for the country club.”
This weekend, Reed and his staff of 36 will be focused not on business but on their annual holiday bake off, whipping up 500 apple cakes for clients, friends and food pantries. “I want to be known for the fifth C – character,” he said.