By  on April 18, 2005

NEW YORK — Jewelry firm Judith Ripka has opened a store less than six blocks from its existing Madison Avenue boutique, yet president Janice Winter insists it’s a world away.

Tourists dominate the area around the older boutique on East 61st Street and Madison, while up near 67th Street is where the more serious jewelry buyers shop, she said. The new store is at 777 Madison.

“The opportunity came up to have a larger space and showcase the jewelry in a flagship setting,” she said of the decision to open a second store. “But that corner [on 61st] is too hard to give up. It’s not a typical strategy, but we think it’ll work out nicely.”

The company has brought in Ripka’s sterling silver collection to the tiny 800-square-foot 61st Street store, which had previously only carried more expensive pieces in 18-karat gold. The new shop, triple the size at 1,200 square feet, offers the entire Ripka collection, from sterling silver and gold to diamonds and South Sea pearls. Retail prices range from $350 for sterling silver to $300,000 for a fine gold item.

Quilted leather walls line the interior of the store. Backed stools sit at each of the cases to encourage customers to sit and stay awhile. The whimsical crystal chandelier and wall sconces look like water running from a faucet in slow motion and are the opposite of the more traditional, ritzy light fixtures seen in other stores nearby.

The back of the boutique is divided on one side into a lounge area with a plasma flat screen TV mounted on the wall and two leather club chairs. “We affectionately call these the husband chairs,” Winter said.

On the other side is a desk where customers can buy pieces in privacy or work directly with Ripka to create a one-of-a-kind item. This service is available in the brand’s other nine stores, but because Ripka lives here, this store will provide the only opportunity for clients to work with her directly.

Winter said the company plans to open one more store by the end of the year and another in 2006, though she declined to say where. The new boutique is expected to bring in twice the volume of the older 61st Street store, she added, but declined to say what those sales are.

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