By  on August 5, 2010

After forging a friendship, Judith Ripka and Shoshanna Gruss are going into business together, creating a costume jewelry line called Shoshanna.

Ripka, who has designed fine jewelry for more than 35 years, has taken accessories ingenue Gruss under her wing to launch the 15-piece collection that will launch exclusively Tuesday on QVC. The line has a youthful bent, with textured hoop earrings, rhinestone-encrusted bangles, multichain necklaces and bracelets and several statement necklaces. Virtually all pieces are offered in gold tone, gunmetal or silver tone.

Gruss said the collection will fill what she sees as an underserved niche. “What I…wanted was youthfulness. At this price point [$20 to $80], I didn’t see anything that was different — a little bolder, but still with a classic feel.” Ripka and Gruss began developing a relationship several years ago, brought together through mutual friends, a passion for jewelry and identical dog-walking routes on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Gruss described Ripka as “the kind of person you click with” and said she quickly came to be “a huge fan of her as a woman and a mom and a businesswoman.”

Gruss, who has expanded her apparel business to include tops, eveningwear, children’s apparel and maternity offerings, started appearing in advertisements for Ripka’s jewelry last year.

“Even when she wears what I would consider classic pieces, she always mixes and matches them to create a fashion-forward, downtown-chic look,” Ripka said.

Their foray into costume jewelry, which the Judith Ripka brand has never offered, picked up steam last year in meetings with manufacturers and QVC. The design process was done in tandem, and though largely a departure from Ripka’s traditional fare, there are hints of her touch throughout, such as the teardrop earrings that echo Judith Ripka earrings of the same silhouette.

“Shoshanna is the creative vision, and I mentor her…in the fundamentals of jewelry design,” said Ripka, who has sold her jewelry on QVC since 1997.

Asked if part of the appeal of the Shoshanna line was the possibility of tapping into a younger audience, Doug Howe, QVC executive vice president of design, development and global sourcing, said, “It’s not necessarily a concerted effort to be younger…the strategy is to continue to be relevant.”

QVC has steadily incorporated jewelry exclusives into its portfolio and is launching Christie Brinkley’s and Priscilla Presley’s jewelry lines next week.

Gruss said jewelry design is unlike creating apparel looks. “It’s completely different…and a little more fun. The results are immediate; it’s instant gratification.”

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