By  on July 30, 2007

Using celebrities and simple designs as springboards, three-year-old jewelry brand Gorjana is spreading across Asia and angling for a higher-end market.Gorjana entered Printemps in Tokyo last year, hit three South Korea stores in May and has signed a deal with distributor Princess Mia to bring its wares to Taiwan and China. The international expansion is a prelude to Gorjana's next endeavor: launching a fine jewelry line this year intended to pique the interest of U.S. and foreign luxury department stores."Now that I am a brand and people [have] heard of me, we really had to step back and say, 'Where are we?'" said Jason Reidel, chief executive officer of Gorjana and the husband of designer Gorjana Reidel. "There is a fork in the road where you can be like Juicy and have all this stuff or you can be like David Yurman and be a big brand based on jewelry. We really see jewelry as the thing that got us to where we are."Gorjana Reidel said that the debut of fine jewelry would follow the course paved by the lower-priced Gorjana items. The selection stays away from overly trendy looks. Stackable rings, everyday hoop earrings and diamond bands in 18-karat gold will be among the initial offerings, and she stressed that the pieces would largely be thin, textured and not littered with stones."With the fine jewelry, I want to keep it basic and edited," she said. "I tend to stick with classic things. I really don't try to reinvent the wheel. It is something that's not a flash in the pan."The fine jewelry collection will debut with 20 to 30 styles priced from $500 to $2,500. Gorjana's core line features about 200 styles in sterling silver and 14-karat gold plate, with retail prices from $45 to $145 for earrings, $55 to $205 for necklaces, $130 to $265 for bracelets and $95 to $145 for rings.Marty Bebout, co-owner of the Blue Bee stores in Santa Barbara, Calif., encouraged Gorjana to produce fine jewelry. Blue Bee has been carrying Gorjana since the brand's inception and retained it in the jeans store even after several jewelry resources were eliminated. Bebout noted that hoop earrings, ring necklaces and stackable rings have been robust performers."We love her classic simple shapes and we would love to have them in gold with diamonds," he said.Created in Laguna Beach, Calif., Gorjana got its start in retail hot spots that increased the brand's exposure as the public's appetite for celebrity mounted. Gorjana's domestic distribution list of some 300 stores has a formidable dose of Southern California's most recognizable names, including Intuition, Lisa Kline, Planet Blue, Blue Bee and Fred Segal. Other notable retailers that stock Gorjana are Henri Bendel and Shopbop.With influential stores under its belt, Gorjana began to be worn by celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Mischa Barton, Lindsay Lohan, Claire Danes and Sophia Bush. Eiko Uchida, who sells U.S. goods to Japanese consumers at the Web site LA-celeb.com, noticed the Hollywood contingent sporting Gorjana and brokered a deal with the Reidels to make the brand available in the Japanese market. In Japan, Gorjana Reidel, a 29-year-old former assistant manager in Neiman Marcus' jewelry department and a model who was signed with Ford, has become an attractive pitch person for the brand.Gorjana weathered its first year operating on a shoestring budget to cross into the black in its second year of business. The Reidels declined to disclose revenues, but Jason Reidel said sales have tripled annually. Last year, the company also decided to address the burgeoning male audience by developing Griffin, a men's jewelry line that Reidel insisted has "no skulls."Two out of Gorjana's three top sellers this year — $45 G-ring earrings and $75 lace hoop earrings — were introduced two years ago. The top seller is a $90 gold three-petal necklace. For fall and holiday, brushed gold and woven braided additions will complement the staple circles and petals."I love to see a new style be popular," he said. "That means that we are moving in the right direction, but I love just as much, if not more, that an old design is doing well. That means that we have enough longevity."

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