By  on January 24, 2005

NEW YORK — Club Monaco is shedding its black-and-white image with a new line of jewelry that would do any Crayola box proud.

This spring, the company is adding affordable baubles to its existing mix of accessories, including handbags, hats, belts and scarves. Retail prices range from $9 to $39.

The first group, an assortment of bright-colored bead necklaces and abstract ribbon pins, will hit the firm’s 61 stores in the U.S. and Canada later this month. Raffia bracelets, wooden bead and feather necklaces, and silk-wrapped bangles will follow, with the majority of items rolling out in March and new pieces coming in on a monthly basis after that.

“We’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” said Robert Page, vice president of accessories design. “It’s just that we had 28 product categories we chose to do first. We started with bags and belts to establish ourselves. But we felt jewelry was so important as a trend this season, we just couldn’t contain ourselves.”

The selection features some of the latest trends from houses like Prada, such as rich vegetable hues and peacock feathers. Noticeably absent are cocktail rings and chandelier earrings, two dominant jewelry trends in the market.

“It’s about offering a really edited collection,” Page said. “We think the necklace is what’s important for spring.”

Club Monaco, which is owned by Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., is the latest retail chain to get in on the jewelry craze. Banana Republic introduced costume jewelry to its stores about three years ago and in recent seasons has become a main resource for well-executed, vintage-inspired pieces.

Club Monaco’s venture into jewelry is a sign the firm is ready to become more serious about its accessories. The company’s same-store sales continued to increase throughout 2004, and since introducing handbags three years ago, the category’s sales have doubled every year.

Club Monaco’s same-store sales were up 4.4 percent for the second quarter ended Oct. 2 and gained 23.8 percent for the year ended April 3.

Accessories will be merchandised together in all the stores, whereas now they are sprinkled throughout the ready-to-wear shelves. Ultimately, Club Monaco would like to develop itself into a lifestyle brand, Page said. The store currently carries miscellaneous items such as music CDs and books from publisher Assouline.For now, however, jewelry is the main focus.

“It’s not about just a great bag or shoe anymore, it’s about great incredible jewelry,” he said.

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