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J. Crew Turns On the Charm

J. Crew is continuing to build upon its accessories assortment with the addition of fine jewelry.

NEW YORK — J. Crew is continuing to build upon its accessories assortment with the addition of fine jewelry.

The collection of silver and 14-karat gold pieces, some of which work in semiprecious materials such as coral and turquoise as well as seasonal trends such as wood beads, had a quiet launch in spring and will continue for the fall and holiday retail season.

Jenna Lyons, senior vice president of women’s design, said the addition of jewelry to J. Crew’s assortment of women’s shoes, handbags, small leather goods, sunglasses and other items like scarves and hats was in part happenstance.

“We were trying to come up with great gift ideas for the holiday season [in 2004],” said Lyons. “We were trying to think about gifts that get better with age. This is when we started thinking about charm bracelets. A charm bracelet commemorates life, and there were so many ways we could approach that.”

It was too early for J. Crew to implement the idea for the holiday season, but the company approached a jeweler and built out the concept for a spring-summer 2005 launch. The debut line consists of 45 to 55 pieces, most of which relate back to the charm bracelet.

Along with the bare bracelets, there is an array of charms, from iconic symbols of the J. Crew lifestyle, such as a flip-flop and a bumblebee, to more personal items such as a locket.

Other items include unisex signet rings that can be engraved, and more trend-driven pieces such as a sterling silver necklace holding a coral horn, a pearl and a silver conch shell.

“We will always have the charm bracelets. It is the center of the idea,” said Lyons of the jewelry collection. “But there will be other things that will flow in and out.”

Lyons said J. Crew hopes to keep the collection small. Other items will be introduced only when they work back to the apparel of a particular season.

“When it makes sense, we’ll go for it,” she said.

The collection, which retails from $45 to $1,900, is currently being sold in select J. Crew stores, including locations in East Hampton, N.Y., on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and in Short Hills, N.J., as well as on the company’s Web site.

“We’ve been really surprised by the response,” Lyons said. “It’s been doing quite well.”

She added that the company hopes to introduce the jewelry in more stores eventually. For now, J. Crew has no plans to retail the collection in its catalogue, although items may be photographed with outfits, and customer service will assist consumers who call and make inquiries.

“[The jewelry] is all part and parcel of raising the scope of the product we do,” Lyons said. “It adds another finishing touch for our customers to create a total look. The charm bracelet, especially, gives somebody a chance to build their own piece. They can have fun with it.”