Building on a strong family heritage, two grandchildren of the French jeweler Fred are spearheading their own single-name jewelry company, Geri.
For the record, Geri and Anthony, the twin siblings behind Geri, do have a surname — Samuel, the same as that of the family patriarch who established the Fred jewelry business in 1936. But sticking with only a first name helps the new brand foster accessibility in a luxury market where expensive, unattainable fine jewelry is the norm.
"There is a need for jewelry that I can buy for my girlfriend without taking a loan that I know she is going to wear everyday," said Anthony Samuel. "There is a gap in the jewelry industry right now for a brand like Geri that is colorful, young-looking and refreshing. Buyers were getting a little bit bored."
Geri, based in Los Angeles, will begin rolling out to stores in January in time for Valentine's Day. Feelings, the premiere collection consists of three thematic subparts: Kiss Me, Hug Me and Love Me. Items in the collection retail from $400 to nearly $4,000. The brand is targeting stores such as Polacheck's Jewelers in Calabasas, Calif., and David Orgell in Beverly Hills.
At its height, Anthony Samuel noted, Fred, acquired by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 1995, popularized charm bracelets. And Geri, he said, has a fantastical whimsy that appeals to women who do not take jewelry too seriously. Geri Samuel, the head designer and face of the brand, prefers intimate pieces and offers them in variety of sizes to suit mothers and daughters, of which she has two: three-year-old Sasha and Lya, who is not yet a year old.
"The Feelings collection is about my children and me. I designed when I was pregnant with my first daughter," said Geri Samuel, who cultivated her craft by freelance designing for Chanel and Cartier. To pin down the Geri look, she said she asked herself, "What would be the perfect gift that I would love to receive the day I become a mother? A kiss from my baby."
Hopping around Los Angeles to various events to promote the line, Geri wears dainty Kiss Me necklaces characterized by decorative lips, often in white or yellow gold with pavé diamonds and semiprecious stones such as black onyx, tigereye and mother-of-pearl.Hug Me pieces contain cloud-like shapes. Two collections following Feelings — Romance in the Park and Evening — will feature more dramatic special occasion jewelry priced up to $10,000.
In the first year, Anthony Samuel aims to put Geri jewelry in 70 stores and generate $3.5 million in revenues. In the second year, he estimated revenues would grow to $10 million, buoyed by international distribution and a planned stand-alone Geri store.
"I am pushing to go really fast because that is the way I am," said Anthony Samuel.
The way the Samuels are is strongly influenced by those who preceded them. When quizzed about her favorite jewelry pieces, Geri Samuel pointed not to store-front dazzlers, but small items with family history. At the top of the list: a pinky ring with a tiny ruby and sapphires her mother wore when she was pregnant with Geri. Anthony Samuel looks no farther than his office desk, crowded with pictures and memorabilia to remember his grandfather, who passed away last October.
"My grandfather has been my mentor. I was always looking up to him," he said. "I went to France in July and when we told him that we would start Geri, he was the happiest man. He said, ‘I know this is for you.'"
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