COSTUME JEWELRY BRAND CAROLEE IS LOOKING TO UPGRADE. After watching its most expensive pieces, including $125 crystal chandelier earrings and $250 12-strand pearl chokers with semiprecious stones become its bestsellers — not to mention its first items to sell out — Carolee plans to launch Carolee Lux, a higher-end collection this fall. “It was natural to move in this direction” says Karen O’Brien, Carolee’s vice president of marketing. “Customers were voting with their sales.” “The desire to go ‘Lux’ has been building the past few years,” continues O’Brien, who cites several factors in the decision, including elevated consumer expectations and the rise in precious metal prices, which make fine jewelry out of reach for many women. “It created a wonderful opportunity for high-quality fashion and bridge jewelry like Carolee Lux.” The Lux collection, retailing from $50 to $500, incorporates four categories — bridal and social occasion, pearl, sterling silver and a trend-based fashion group with semiprecious stones — all of which will be available in Bloomingdale’s and U.S. specialty stores in September. Extending its bridal and special occasion reach was important for Carolee, given that it often represents the consumer’s entry to the brand. “It’s our top producing segment,” O’Brien says. “It’s a big part of the foundation of the Carolee business.” In turn, the Lux bridal and social occasion collection will feature dramatic elongated drop and chandelier earrings with a mixture of crystals, cubic zirconia and hand-polished glass pearls. Necklaces will range from delicate pearl and Y-styles to wide princess chokers. Specific pieces include pearl and crystal vine motif earrings for $75 to $100, similar style necklaces for $150 to $200, and a crystal and pearl woven cuff bracelet for $350. Its fashion group will more directly relate to apparel trends with purple and earth tones being key colors this fall, articulated through the use of amethyst, bloodstones and smoky topaz. Customers can expect to encounter stronger statement pieces, O’Brien says, including a 10-strand torsade necklace with jasper and bloodstone retailing for $350. The sterling silver assortment, meanwhile, will build upon Carolee’s successful Sterling Sentiments group with its engraved bangles featuring quotations or the words “love,” “mother” or “friend” in five different languages. “We see this as a way to continue to mark special milestones,” O’Brien says, adding that the bracelets are highly collectible, leading some stores to continue to expand their inventory. Sterling silver Lux bracelets will retail for $125 to $150, with some featuring quotations such as “A sister by birth, a friend for life,” or “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Carolee’s fourth component, the pearl grouping will possess the most prominent packaging, designed for gift giving. Freshwater cultured pearl jewelry priced from $50 to $195 and hand-polished glass-based pearl pieces priced at $50 for earrings or bracelets to $250 for a 60-inch rope necklace will be shipped in sable bronze metallic-hinged boxes with gold trim, relaying the feel of fine jewelry. The remainder of the Lux collection will be packaged in suede pouches with a two-part box, O’Brien says. “We hear from customers that they love presentation for gift giving,” she says. “They love real jewelry and we’re trying to answer that call on as many levels as we can.” While O’Brien wouldn’t give sales figures, she says the company anticipates a modest double-digit increase with the rebranding.
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