The idyllic setting of Carmel-by-the-Sea on California’s Monterey Peninsula might make some business owners complacent. But as Fourtané marks over 70 years in business, the Bonifas family has taken a look back at its roots and a leap forward, opening a new flagship store solely for jewelry this past fall.
“We wanted to bring a focus and intentionality back to our jewelry categories, [which] were the foundation of our business and the expertise of the Bonifas family,” explains Russell Kelly, the company’s chief operations officer.
At its founding in 1950, Fourtané specialized in estate jewelry. Over time, it expanded into branded and custom jewelry and prestige watches. The watch category became especially successful. Now, with the new jewelry flagship opening less than a block away, the “charmingly small” original store of less than 400 square feet will focus solely on watches, according to Kelly. Fourtané also has an official Rolex boutique in San Diego.
A change of scenery
The two-story, 3,600-square-foot flagship was designed to create “an openness and space that you can’t find anywhere else in Carmel,” says Kelly, noting that the owners made a deliberate decision “not to fill every inch.”
Style and understated elegance dominate the décor. A neutral palette frames white-oak herringbone flooring, Calacatta marble, and decorative art to create the luxurious ambience of an old-world Parisian apartment. The upstairs gallery features the master jeweler’s in-house workshop and the VIP lounge, and boasts a glass wall with breathtaking views.
The new store also allows Fourtané to address the demands of a changing customer base. “We still have our original core clientele,” says Kelly, “but we are ushering in a new and younger clientele whose tastes are definitely different.”
In particular, he elaborates, “people are interested in more wearable jewelry, with pieces that can be worn day-to-evening, and maybe a bit [more] understated than in the past. It is less about event-driven or special-occasion purchases.”
We still have our original core clientele, but we are ushering in a younger clientele whose tastes are definitely different.
In keeping with that goal, Fourtané offers pieces by Carolina Bucci, a fourth-generation Florentine jeweler whose designs combine traditional craftsmanship and modern style. She created a special Carmel version of her signature beaded Forte bracelet and a Lucky Fourtané bracelet exclusively for the store.
Clients can also design their own custom Forte bracelets or necklaces from a selection of beads and semi-precious stones, says Kelly. Jars of Bucci’s Forte beads and decorative marble balls fill the dark wood shelves along the main gallery, providing pops of color.
“It’s not about transactional retail,” says the COO. “We want to create a jewelry experience and less of a shopping destination. More than anything, it’s really about being a part of the community and welcoming people to spend time here.”
Main image: The Bonifas family. (Fourtané)
This article is from the January-February 2024 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.