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JCK Online

M.S. Rau Uses a Century of Experience to Design New Jewelry Boutique

Original article written by Karen Dybis for JCK Online


When M.S. Rau acquired an additional space next to its century-old New Orleans gallery, Bill Rau knew the planned jewelry boutique that would go there had to be unique, dynamic, and able to stand up visually next to the rare jewels that would be on display there.


The resulting boutique, which has its grand opening Friday, meets his goals and takes the business into new territory, Rau says. Its design is anchored by a custom-built glass vault room, specialty displays, and specialty lighting that makes every gem look its best, the third-generation owner says.


“It’s my belief that if you have something great, it has to look great,” Rau says of designing the space, a more than two-year project that takes into consideration everything from lighting to display cases to the way the jewelry is shared with a client.

The lighting schemes and specialty displays at M.S. Rau’s new jewelry boutique were designed to highlight each diamond, gem, and piece of jewelry in the store, Bill Rau says. 

For example, its circular design takes customers fully through the M.S. Rau experience, providing a full view of all of the jewelry exhibited while giving visitors a small yet purposeful sneak peek into the main showroom, where its antiques and fine art are on display. The new jewelry boutique is 8,500 square feet, and the main gallery is about 40,000 square feet.


“We put effort into which way people are going to walk—we wanted certain sight lines into what they could and couldn’t see easily,” Rau says. “We planned it so people would be encouraged to walk in a certain way to be able to see things. We don’t have jewelry in every spot; there is seating in some areas or a beverage station tucked away.”


The M.S. Rau jewelry boutique also will let clients stand shoulder to shoulder with the staff, a selling technique that Rau believes is best not only for the jewels but also gives people a special experience. Much like an Apple store, Rau says having both people in the buying-and-selling transaction standing on the same side of the case is friendlier and a step forward in jewelry.


Another highlight Rau appreciates is the glass vault room, which serves as the centerpiece within the boutique, Rau says. You can see some of the jewels in the cases from the main boutique floor, but to get up close to the gems on display there, a client is invited to come inside for a unique shopping experience.

MS Rau store with crystals hanging from ceiling
The center of the new M.S. Rau jewelry boutique features a glass vault where people can view its rare and unique gems. 

“We want someone to fall in love—and part of that is creating desire,” Rau says. “We think long term and tried to build something that we’ll be pleased with years down the road.”


Located at 630 Royal Street, the new boutique includes two floors within the historic landmark buildings that make up M.S. Rau—think of it like a horseshoe or U-shaped area on the main shopping area of Royal Street, Rau says. While renovating a historic landmark offered some challenges, the result was worth the years of preparation, he says.


The boutique will specialize in rare colored diamonds, Kashmir sapphires and Burmese rubies as well as iconic designers such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co., and Van Cleef & Arpels.


The grand-opening celebration will highlight M.S. Rau’s latest exhibition, Crowning Jewels. The exhibition includes museum-quality gemstones and designer jewelry creations from an exceptionally rare fancy vivid yellow orange diamond to a pink and white diamond-encrusted rabbit brooch originally designed by Raymond Yard.


Top: The new M.S. Rau boutique that specializes in jewelry seeks to create a one-of-a-kind experience that makes the client see its pieces in a new way (all photos courtesy of M.S. Rau).




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