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Jeweler’s Luster Grows via Private Club

In the three months since Lugano Diamonds & Jewelry Inc. opened its exclusive club and venue space, Privé, members have eaten meals prepared by world-renowned Chef Thomas Keller, sipped exclusive wine varietals curated by Privé’s master sommelier and watched performances from Grammy award-winning trumpeter Christopher Botti and critically acclaimed supernatural entertainer Lior Suchard.

Privé, which means “private” in French, is the latest sign that the Newport Beach-based jeweler will spare no expense when it comes to creating “priceless” experiences for its clientele.

It’s one of several new and existing clubs across Orange County that are upping the amenities, exclusivity and experiences for the region’s wealthy.

“We feel there isn’t any glass ceiling to what we can do,” Lugano co-founder and Chief Executive Moti Ferder told the Business Journal.

Revenue Records

Lugano has the resources to do so, with revenue continuing to hit record highs each quarter, placing it as the best-performing consumer brand unit under parent Compass Diversified Holdings (NYSE: CODI).

Regulatory filings indicate Lugano reported $201.5 million in 2022 pro-forma sales, a 61% jump from 2021. In the first quarter of this year, it reported revenue of $64 million, a 36% year-over-year increase.

On the heels of such gains—bolstered by sales from the firm’s new flagship salon and the neighboring Privé at Fashion Island—Lugano is planning to open a second flagship store in the U.S. as well as its first international location in London.

It’s also considering an expansion of Privé to other markets.

Privé’s Pillars

The reaction to Privé thus far has been “incredible,” Lugano CEO Ferder said.

The club is indeed an exclusive one; members must be active clients of the jewelry brand, have a philanthropic flair and be personally invited by Lugano.

All members are residents of Orange County.

“The club is revolutionary not just for Orange County, it’s on par with the best of the best membership clubs worldwide,” Ferder said. “It’s all about expanding our community, connecting the dots and providing a home away from home.”

The salon and membership club is located in an 11,5000-square-foot space at a spot between Whole Foods and R+D Kitchen, and previously used by Canaletto Ristorante Veneto.

Privé is open to members five days a week, between Tuesday and Saturday, and serves as a high-end restaurant and venue space with events held several times a month.

Privé has four pillars, according to Ferder. The first is a quarterly culinary club with Ment’or, a nonprofit founded by famed chefs Keller, Daniel Boulud and Jerome Bocuse to help cultivate and support young talent in the culinary industry.

“Lugano has been involved with Ment’or for about seven years. It’s a great cause that supports inner-city kids that want to get into the culinary world,” Ferder said.

Other pillars include a wine club, a speaker series in partnership with the Aspen Institute and live entertainment.

“We are providing access to experiences these individuals can’t get on their own. It’s backstage access to exceptional opportunities,” Ferder said.

Giving Back

Like it does with every new location, Lugano is making philanthropy a cornerstone of its new Fashion Island hub, with efforts to support the community through Privé’s events.

Lugano is a frequent partner in the local arts scene—Ferder sits on the board of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and his wife and Lugano co-founder, Idit Ferder, is on the board of trustees at the Orange County Museum of Art, which provides free admission to the public after an endowment from the jeweler.

Today, Lugano supports more than 80 organizations focused on healthcare, education and the arts.

“This is a continuation of delivering an exceptional experience while supporting the organizations that give a leg up to the people who need it,” Ferder said.

Lugano declined to disclose Privé membership counts and pricing. Sources indicate similar private membership clubs in OC range from $50,000 to $400,000.

Retail Rollout

The company’s rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and brooches cost an average price of around $115,000 per item, and often top $1 million. Clients reportedly include several members of this week’s OC’s Wealthiest list (see list, page 14).

Idit Ferder, one of the honorees of the Business Journal’s 2022 Women in Business Awards, is also behind the design of Lugano’s retail stores, which today total seven locations.

It will open its newest location next month in Greenwich, Conn. Lugano is also currently developing a flagship outpost in Palm Beach spanning 4,800 square feet, to join the retail salon that opened in the city in 2018.

Lugano earlier this month signed a lease for its first international location in London.

The deal follows several equestrian-themed partnerships in Europe, such as involvement in the Royal Charity Polo Day, with Prince William participating and Kate Middleton in attendance. The event raised $1.2 million for nearly a dozen organizations.

Local Consumer Brands

Lugano’s growth has been driven by salon openings and increases in average order size, according to Compass Chief Operating Officer Pat Maciariello.

“We’re adding a lot of new customers,” Maciariello said during a first quarter earnings call.
Compass, based in Westport, Conn. but with executive offices in Costa Mesa, bought a nearly 60% stake in Lugano in a roughly $256 million deal in 2021.

The company saw adjusted earnings increase 20% in 2022, “primarily due to the strong performance at CODI’s branded consumer subsidiaries and the benefit of the PrimaLoft and Lugano acquisitions,” the company said in a statement.

Compass anticipates investing between $60 million and $70 million for the full 2023 year, primarily for the retail expansion for Lugano and fellow portfolio company 5.11 Tactical, which is based in Costa Mesa.

As for Lugano, the new ownership has marked “an exceptional partnership.”

“The fact that Compass was willing to embark on something like Privé really shows their depth of understanding of our brand and the market,” Ferder said. “We have been working harder than ever to deliver growth.”

Waldorf Astoria’s Wellness

Health and wellness remain top of mind for high-end members at the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach, where one of three membership tiers is dubbed the “Wellness Membership.”

“We set a capacity for each membership tier to ensure the most personalized service,” said Danielle Frazer, director of membership at the Waldorf Astoria.

Annual memberships range from $3,969 to $24,800, not including an initiation fee. Frazer said that interest remains in high demand.

Wellness members have over 40 classes to choose from, with most sessions taking place on the private Monarch Beach shore. The hotel will debut an updated fitness center with movement studios in the next few months.

Social Life Expansions

Following the debut of the new Privé space at Fashion Island from Lugano Diamonds & Jewelry Inc., two other members-only clubs will open across Orange County this year, touting themselves as modern social clubs.

The Elwood Club will open alongside Pendry Newport Beach in September while The Park Club will debut in Costa Mesa in October, replacing the shuttered Center Club.

The Elwood is heavily leaning into the social aspect of its venues, with Pendry officials highlighting a cabaret component as a notable addition to the city’s nightlife.

The Park Club aims to be one of the top exclusive spaces for networking outside the office, with upgraded meeting rooms, redesigned outdoor terraces and expanded ballrooms.

“The amenities make the difference,” Eagle Four Partners Principal Kevin Martin told the Business Journal. The Newport Beach-based firm is converting the former Fashion Island hotel into the Pendry property along with management firm Montage International.

Eagle Four also owns the Newport Beach Country Club and Balboa Bay Resort & Club.

“The contemporary, modern social club is about creating a place for connection,” said Selby Gillett, the membership director of the Balboa Bay Resort.

Owner and operator BNG Hospitality is investing $6.5 million in renovating the soon-to-open Park Club, located at the Center Tower office building near South Coast Plaza.

“We’ll be catering to all different levels of luxury,” Cole Cable, director of member relations, said.

The director said that a group of “key players in OC” are on the club’s board to help define these levels, hailing from organizations like Pacific Symphony, Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA), and a variety of industries such as real estate and law.

The club will feature a rotating art exhibit with pieces from the nearby OCMA, and will also look to collaborate with the neighboring Segerstrom Center of the Arts by inviting cast members from touring musicals to the club for members to meet.

“There’s not a lot of places for people to go after the show, and the club can be that,” Cable said.

Initiation fees range from $5,000 to $6,000 for invited executives and corporate groups.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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