By  on April 26, 2010

On her first date with husband-to-be Robert Frankel, Lisa Frankel, then 17, kept the cork from the bottle of wine they shared — a Château Léoville Poyferré, ’55 — and turned it into a pendant. She added an 18-karat gold bead and strung the DIY bauble on a leather chord. By 1983, Frankel (née Phillips) had spun her jewelry-making hobby into a full-fledged business, L. Design, which focused solely on a private clientele. Now she’s finally ready to open her doors to the public.

Much has changed in these past 27 years, however. The Boston-born, Miami-based Frankel has turned the company, now named Phillips Frankel, into a family affair; daughter Danielle, 26, is her design partner (and the Frankel in the updated moniker), while her son and son-in-law, a former investment banker and a lawyer, respectively, handle the business and marketing side. In fact, it was Danielle who suggested the recent change in direction. “I really encouraged her to make the move,” says the younger Frankel, who officially joined the firm in 2006. “I saw all of this great demand that we weren’t necessarily getting ahold of. Now we can get to the next level.”

Asked whether the move was a result of the economic downturn, the senior Frankel insists otherwise. She notes that her company, which specializes in gemstone-encrusted pieces, has managed to acquire a customer base of more than 5,000 mostly by word of mouth. (Of course, it helps that the Miami-based Frankels are well acquainted with South Florida’s VIP circles; Frankel lives next door to Cher on La Gorce Island and works closely with the Shriver family through her involvement in their nonprofit group Best Buddies.)

The new collection, which for now will be sold exclusively on the company Web site, ranges from colorful stacked rings to textured gold cuffs embellished with diamond medallions and pavé pandants. “I like feminine pieces; I like classic trends,” says Frankel of her sensibility. “You shouldn’t be forced to get dressed around your jewelry.” Among the more whimsical designs in the line are the diamond and 14-karat gold discs from her Tag series — they feature engraved names, playful cutouts of children or smiley faces. Retail prices for Phillips Frankel range from $250 to $3,000.

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