Rapaport Magazine

Tropical Jewel

Jewelry Boutiques in Hawaii

By Nancy Pier Sindt
RAPAPORT... A free-spirited outlook coupled with a love for travel and beautiful jewels gives Deanna Kay Wander’s elegant Haimoff & Haimoff boutiques in Hawaii their universal appeal.

It all began more than 30 years ago, when Deanna Kay and her first husband, Harry Haimoff, settled in Carmel, California, and opened a small boutique selling his jewelry designs. That was followed in 1975 by a store in Maui, Hawaii, another in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a third in Kapalua, Maui. Finally, the couple moved to Honolulu and opened additional locations on the main island. In 1990, after the couple divorced, Deanna bought out the remaining shares of Haimoff & Haimoff.

Today, Kay and her husband, third-generation jeweler Robert Wander, oversee three jewel-like boutiques, one in Honolulu’s exclusive Halekulani Hotel, another in The Fairmont Orchid on the Kohala Coast and the third in the King’s Shops at Waikoloa. Clientele includes a potent mixture of tourists and local residents. “Our clients are generally upscale, fashionable people who vacation in the hotels. They are sophisticated and have knowledge of jewelry,” explains Patti Oshiro, the office manager who has worked with Kay for 16 years. “They look for something they can’t get from their hometown jeweler.”

What this usually means is jewelry that captures some of the spirit of the islands’ history, flora and fauna. For example, one highly popular item is the Midnight Keawe, an amulet of gold, diamonds and mother of pearl, inspired by the Keawe, a historic tree in Hawaii. Other strong sellers include designs of freshwater pearls, gold and silver floral charms and the one-of-a-kind collection of jewels from Wander’s Winc Creations. His latest designs feature rainbows of colored gemstones embellished with delicate, etched gridwork, highlighted by pavé diamonds in white, brown and chocolate.

For a number of years, Kay has created her own jewelry designs, which she describes as “upscale but accessible, with themes that cut across different cultures — pieces that women would buy for themselves.” In the beginning, she sold her collection only in the Haimoff & Haimoff shops, but when the response to her designs grew, she opened a wholesale operation, called dkFINDS, which produced and sold jewelry to other retailers. Now, however, the wholesale operation is being cut back to allow Kay to focus more attention on the shops.


Kay’s partnership with Wander is an interesting story, which started with her as a customer for his unique jewelry. The two had known each other on a professional level for more than a decade. Originally, Wander was headquartered in New York, where he acted as designer and president of Winc Creations, known for its Etruscan-inspired colored gemstone jewelry and whimsical bug collections of hand-carved gemstones. During the 1980s, Wander closed his business and took a sabbatical to the Florida Keys, where he spent his time as a marlin-fishing charter boat captain. He returned to the world of jewelry design, came to Hawaii and in 1995, the couple married in a Buddhist Temple in Thailand.

Now they work together and separately, maintaining offices across the hall from each other. Theirs is a supportive, as well as creative, relationship. For example, Kay credits Wander with being the inspiration behind dkFINDS, and Wander recognizes Kay as the emotional support for his Crystal Candy Collection, launched in 2002. These one-of-a-kind pieces, created using rough and carved colored gemstone crystals, take their inspiration from Cambodian temples, New York architecture and tropical gardens, mixing many colors of diamonds, gemstones and gold. They are some of the shops’ most popular items.

Because of its location and audience, Haimoff & Haimoff is not your typical jeweler. For example, engagement rings are a minimal part of the business, and while diamond jewelry is an important category, it is by no means dominant. In addition to Winc Creations, branded collections include Michael Sugarman, Philip Stein, Charles Garnier, Gregg Ruth and McTeigue. Diamonds are generally G to H in color, VS or SI.


In a resort environment, it is important to offer a range of prices, says Oshiro. For example, to satisfy a teen customer, there are sterling pieces inlaid with mother of pearl, fashionable designs of wirework and beads and a full assortment of casual, everyday styles. “People want jewelry they can wear to the beach,” she says, “pieces that are not too costly, but have a fashionable look.”

Signature styles for the stores include the floral-inspired Halekulani and Waikoloa collections of charms, pendants and earrings, available in sterling silver and 14-karat gold. Featured on the website and in the store, each item has its retail price prominently displayed. Also enjoying more attention in recent months are new collections of men’s jewelry in stainless steel, silver and some 18-karat gold, including a designer collection in sterling silver from David Heston.
Also, unlike traditional retailers, there is not a lot of demand for custom work. “Our clientele is transient,” explains Oshiro. “There is no time to produce custom pieces except for people who come to the islands for periods of time.”
However, the ever-changing nature of its customers presents an opportunity for Haimoff & Haimoff, which does regular advertising in the Guest Informant, found in every room of its host hotels. Hawaiian Style, a local magazine that is getting increasing numbers of mainland readers, is also credited with attracting local shoppers and tourists alike.

The store’s event schedule is another means of traffic building. The hotels typically feature monthly events, which include “open shops” — cocktail parties in the lobby and adjacent shops. There are also designer trunk shows and personal appearances throughout the season.

Another integral part of Haimoff & Haimoff’s outreach is supporting events and causes in the local community. For example, to help raise funds for silent auctions, the store typically donates gift certificates, which serve two purposes. First, they give more money directly to the cause and, second, they open the door for potential new clients.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - September 2007. To subscribe click here.

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