Tag Archives: Molina

BSF_Phoenix Rendering

Molina will open Black, Starr & Frost in Phoenix

Newport  Beach-based Black, Starr & Frost – America’s First Jeweler since 1810 – has announced that it has begun the first step in its planned national expansion, commencing construction on a new Phoenix location at 3134 E. Camelback Rd. in the Biltmore Plaza Shopping Center.

World-renowned gemologist and jeweler Alfredo J. Molina acquired the iconic firm, Black, Starr & Frost, in 2006, and in 2011, opened a beautifully appointed showroom overlooking the Newport Beach harbor in Southern California. He is now keenly focused on expanding the historic brand – which in its heyday had more than 30 locations – into key U.S. markets.

According to Molina, president and chairman of both Molina Fine Jewelers and Black, Starr & Frost, the new store will be located in the prestigious Biltmore area within the existing Molina Fine Jewelers building. The southern portion of the structure will be completely transformed and renovated to make way for the new two-story, 2,000-square-foot Black, Starr & Frost salon. The architect of record is PHX Architecture, an experienced firm that is additionally overseeing interior design of the luxury salon. Scottsdale-based Angelone Builders is leading the construction with Berghoff Design Group, also headquartered in Scottsdale, spearheading the exterior landscape design. The new store is slated for completion early this fall 2015.

“We are thrilled to expand our footprint into Arizona and see the Phoenix and Scottsdale area as a perfect market for our rare jewels, luxury Black, Starr & Frost timepieces and finely crafted jewelry,” Molina said. “This is an important step as we continue to focus on revitalizing the Black, Starr & Frost brand with new collections, signature piece and new locations nationwide.”

Founded in New York City in 1810, Black, Starr & Frost is the oldest continually operated jewelry firm in the United States. According to lead architect and PHX principal Erik Peterson, the new store will evoke the original feel of its early New York City locations.

With this in mind, “our team gleaned inspiration from a composite of vintage photos taken of Black, Starr & Frost stores throughout the 1800s and at the turn of the century.” The end results, he says, will be “simple, clean interiors in the brand’s palette with gleaming black and white tile floors, fine sterling silver accents – a nod to the company’s early work as silversmiths – and walls clad in black-on-black patterned wallpaper.” Exquisite jewels and fine jewelry, all housed in classic glass and silver casework, are the focal point of the new space – with additional casework recessed into walls.

Additional highlights will include:

  • Intricate front door hardware patterned after a signature Black, Starr & Frost emerald and diamond brooch – hinting at the beautiful jewelry within.
  • A large plate glass front window displaying jewelry to the outside (Black, Starr & Frost was an innovator, being the first retailer to show merchandise to the outside of a building, essentially launching window shopping.)
  • Jewelry casework inspired by the much-talked about 1912 building.
  • A classic and enclosed outdoor front patio for special events and parties featuring a water element that combines fire and water.
  • An in-store display showcasing early photos, antiques and original pieces, all depicting the jeweler’s colorful 205-year history.
  • An upstairs salon designed to accommodate VIPs and allow private viewings of rare pieces.
  • A safety deposit box system contained within the salon’s vaults providing safe-keeping of clients’ valuables. (The firm invented the safety box system during the Civil War to keep valuables of clients from the North and the South safe during war.)

A jeweler to celebrities, presidents, privileged American families and royalty, Black, Starr & Frost’s saga is set against the extravagance of the Gilded Age, the turbulence of the Reconstruction Era, the vibrancy of the Jazz Age and more.

“We are thrilled to unveil this beautiful new salon, which will pay homage to our vibrant history and time-honored tradition of crafting the very finest jewelry,” Molina said.

Along with magnificent one-of-a-kind jewels and everyday luxury collections including timepieces, the new store will feature custom jewelry design and manufacturing; a VIP concierge; cleaning and inspection; fine jewelry repair; jewelry appraisals; private appointments; and estate jewelry.


Molina dazzles Arizona for 25 years

Alfredo J. Molina doesn’t care for pennies.

“Starting when I was a young boy, I learned the jewelry business from my grandfather,” Molina says. “He would take pennies and roll them out into a sheet because copper and gold have similar malleability. Every day after school, he would put me to work on the bench for four or five hours, learning how to make jewelry. He would find fault. He was a perfectionist, but I learned how to craft fine jewelry. But to say I have a strong dislike for pennies would not be an overstatement.”

From his humble beginning working with pennies, Molina has built an empire that rocked the jewelry world in 2012 when he sold the Archduke Joseph diamond – a 76-carat stone once owned by Archduke Joseph August of Austria – for $21.5 million, the highest price ever paid at auction for a colorless diamond. If you ask Molina how he went from working with pennies to becoming a record-setting diamond seller, he is quick to point to his lineage.

“I am an 11th-generation jeweler,” Molina says. “My ancestors were silversmiths in Milan, Italy, beginning in 1634.”

His family eventually landed in Cuba, where Molina was born in 1959, three months after the revolution. Molina’s father, Roberto, had built his own multi-million-dollar jewelry and gold empire in Cuba until Castro seized power along with the Molina family fortune.

Molina’s family fled Cuba in 1967. They landed in Chicago with no money, but a man — whom Molina has never been able to identify — selflessly bought the family food so they could survive. That single act, Molina says, inspired him to become philanthropist who has given away a staggering $30 million to more than 195 nonprofit organizations.

But earning those millions to give away didn’t come easy. After coming to Phoenix as a teenager to see his uncle and then staying, Molina set his sights on opening his own jewelry business. He opened Molina By Appointment Only at 13th Street and Missouri on Oct. 1987 with no money in the bank, no inventory, and $90,000 worth of furniture that he was only able to secure because he talked the furniture store owner into a “90 days same as cash” agreement.

“I had to call it ‘by appointment only’ because I didn’t have any inventory,” Molina says. “But what that did was set us apart. By having the customers make an appointment, it gave me time to talk with them, find out what they were looking for, and then I had time to source the merchandise and when they came in, I was able to present them options that gave them exactly what they wanted.”

In his first two months in business, Molina made more than $1 million and he quickly built a reputation as the go-to jeweler for those seeking the highest quality and craftsmanship.

“We are not just in the jewelry business,” says Molina, who is celebrating 25 years in business, “We are in the emotion business. We are about the experience of buying fine jewelry. We do everything within our power to make that experience unforgettable.”

Molina Fine Jewelers
3134 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix