AUTUMN SOLSTICE: Solstice Sunglass Boutique opened its newest Manhattan location last week at 48 Ninth Avenue in the Meatpacking District. “The Meatpacking District is the perfect location for our upscale designer sunglass concept,” said Rick Talmage, chief operating officer of Solstice Sunglass Boutique. The eyewear retailer is expanding and recently opened a two-floor Miami outpost.

The Asian-American Arts Alliance is honoring handbag designer Rafe Totengco’s contributions to fashion on Tuesday with a dinner party at New York’s 12 Chairs Café. Fellow honorees include Asian-American designers Phillip Lim and Peter Som. “As an Asian-American designer, I think it’s important that we celebrate our heritage and strengthen the bond between us,” Totengco said.

Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the alliance, a 26-year-old nonprofit arts organization dedicated to strengthening Asian-American artists and cultural groups in New York.

DIAMOND DEAL: Jewelry retail firm Birks & Mayors Inc. will become the exclusive distributor of Botswana diamonds in North America. The diamonds will be sourced through London-based Diamond Trading Co., part of the De Beers family, which also has a joint venture with the Botswana government. The stones will be manufactured exclusively in a local factory, Diamond Manufacturing Botswana.

Starting with an assortment of mostly large diamonds from 2 to 5 carats, the Botswana diamonds will launch in mid-October as part of the Birks private label line. Initially, they will be offered at the company’s Canadian stores, called Birks, in its Montreal headquarters as well as in Toronto and Vancouver, and in the company’s Mayors stores in Miami and Atlanta.

The joint arrangement with the Botswana government promotes assurance of “sustainable, ethical benefits, in jobs, health care and housing” for the people of Botswana, as well as quality control and auditing for Birks & Mayors, said John Orrico, senior vice president. Botswana supplies 26 percent of the world’s diamonds, which are about 76 percent of the country’s exports and 33 percent of its gross domestic product, officials said. Birks & Mayors also carries Birks Canadian Diamonds and The Amorique Diamond, a proprietary cut. Birks & Mayors operates 70 jewelry stores in North America. The company posted annual sales of $294.3 million in fiscal 2007.

WESTERN GEMS: Martin + Osa is building its jewelry assortment next month when a holiday collection designed with Southern California jewelry brand Gorjana will hit stores of the American Eagle Outfitters offshoot. The collection consists of three earrings and four necklaces retailing from $40 to $110.

“We based it off of what is selling really well in our current line and tweaked it to make it a little more simple and brought the prices down,” said Gorjana designer Gorjana Reidel, who added that the goal was make the pieces approachable for a wide range of customers.

Reidel said the Gorjana for Martin + Osa collection will be carried in the top doors first and then, depending upon sell-through, will be rolled out across the chain of about 25 stores.

Creative director Paul Overfield is pleased with the progress Cole Haan has made in updating the 80-year-old brand. The patent leather penny loafers created for the anniversary have sold out, and an optical woven handbag in black patent and suede has been “an incredible success.” Plus, the “wish”-themed sterling jewelry by Anna Sheffield has been well received since its introduction in August.

“We’re incredibly happy with the way things are going — it’s the evolution of the brand,” Overfield said at dinner Wednesday in Dallas with Sheffield and local media. “We talk about reimagining all the time, how we can take a classic product and make it more relevant by updating it. People love the idea of a classic reimagined.”

With $500 million in annual sales, Cole Haan’s business “hasn’t been too bad given the economic climate,” Overfield said.

In other company news, Michael Capiraso has been appointed Cole Haan’s chief marketing officer. Capiraso, who starts on Tuesday, will be responsible for developing and managing all aspects of the accessories firm’s global marketing and communications efforts. He will be based at the company’s design and marketing headquarters in New York and will report to chief executive officer James Seuss. Capiraso joins the company from PRISM, WPP’s sports and entertainment agency, where he had been ceo of North America. He replaces Lori Wagner, who left the firm last February.

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