By  on September 4, 2007

NEW YORK — Bergdorf Goodman is banking on the jewelry boom.

The upscale retailer will unveil a renovated luxury jewelry area in the main floor of its storied Fifth Avenue flagship today that is filled with jewels from the finest houses. These baubles are intended to exemplify the Bergdorf's ethos: rarity, distinction and quality.

"The jewelry business has been extremely strong for the past several years," said Jim Gold, Bergdorf's president and chief executive officer. "It's a natural outcome when you consider the wealth that's taken place in this country and around the world. For those of us trading in Manhattan, we're not only catering to a domestic clientele, but also the travelers who come from Russia, China and the Middle East. When you have such favorable times for the wealthy...that bodes well for jewelry."

Four years ago, Bergdorf's sought to differentiate its fine jewelry assortment from Fifth Avenue competitors such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Bulgari, Harry Winston and Cartier by choosing not to sell commodities such as basic diamond engagement rings and line bracelets, and to instead offer artisan and rarefied designs.

By focusing on fine jewelry artists, Bergdorf's has helped shape a new niche in the industry, generating demand for somewhat inaccessible, elusive pieces.

The 1,150-square-foot luxury jewelry area took eight weeks to update, and features brands such as Siegelson, known for its breadth of top-notch estate pieces and its own impressive diamond pieces; Carnet, designed by the Hong Kong-based Michelle Ong; de Grisogono, famous for its whimsical gemstone-infused baubles, and Henry Dunay, known for his satin-finished gold work. The space's former occupants, Buccellati and Barry Kieselstein-Cord, will also be exhibited there.

The department is designed in the Thirties and Forties French Moderne style, with a Max Ingrand-inspired étagère inlaid with shagreen and bone, cabinets of Macassar ebony veneer and parquet floors with custom-designed carpeting.

Prices for luxury jewelry range from $16,000 to $300,000. The retailer will also source special pieces from its vendors for clients seeking something customized, and so prices will likely reach even higher. Gold noted that there has been no price resistance in any of Bergdorf's jewelry categories.There will also be a selling space for those who want privacy when plunking down hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We have had great success in discovering emerging jewelry designers," said Sydney Price, vice president and divisional merchandise manager for jewelry and watches.

Price said Bergdorf's mentors young designers, sometimes for as long as two years, before it invests in a collection.

"Many of them are full of talent, but in need of a little direction," Price said. "We encourage them to stretch and develop their line, while keeping their individual styles. Ultimately, it benefits both parties."

The luxury jewelry room is the first of the store's jewelry spaces to be redesigned. In May 2008, the 1,875-square-foot Pavilion room, which houses designer jewelry such as Faraone Mennella and Ted Muehling that ranges from $100 to $100,000, will be renovated. Construction begins on Jan. 22.

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