By  on May 21, 2007

Laura Freedman's college degree paid off.

Her senior thesis, called "Location, Location, Location," explored retail success in the Los Angeles area. Brentwood scored remarkably high. And, four years after her graduation from the University of San Diego, that's where Freedman decided to open Broken English, a tailored jewelry store in the upscale neighborhood's Country Mart, home to Calypso, James Perse and City Bakery.

"I had no idea that it [the thesis] would come back into use later," said Freedman, 28, who worked at West Hollywood glitterati mainstay Kaviar and Kind and keeps her own bling to a minimum. "It happened that that was the right place at the right time."

The 400-square-foot jewel box is more an art gallery than baubles outlet, Freedman said. She cobbled together Italian, French, American and English jewelry cases, with the store's central features being a beveled glass Art Deco countertop case, two Sixties-era Hermès chairs and an Italian chandelier from the Fifties. The store also is filled with personal touches: artwork from a friend named Butterfly, a ship in a bottle picked up at a San Francisco store and a toy carousel from an antique show.

"It's very eclectic, almost like a store you would see in Paris,'' said Freedman, who designed the space. "It's a mix between Deco and midcentury — all very clean and tasteful. The cases are spectacular, but the focal point is the jewelry."

In a nod to Freedman's belief that jewelry, like music, is the "language of love," she took the store name from the title of Marianne Faithfull's 1979 album. She said the jewelry carried at Broken English, which starts at around $85 and reaches $40,000, are works of art. In choosing the pieces, Freedman has been careful not to overlap with designers stocked heavily at other competing Los Angeles area shops and luxury department stores.

"I'm not looking for someone who's copying what has already been done,'' Freedman said. "I'm looking for people who are cutting-edge and at the forefront of what they do. I see myself really representing them. I look for designers who are very hands-on. I don't want someone who mass produces pieces."

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