By  on June 18, 2007

For photographer Monica Rich Kosann, a piece of heirloom jewelry is a snapshot in time as much as a precious accessory.

Kosann brought together her passion for photography, antiques and the charm of custom-made accessories of the past — such as Cole Porter's cigarette case and precious evening bags decorated with the owner's birthstone — when she conjured a jewelry and accessories line in 2002.

Kosann co-founded her namesake company with her husband Rod, the former president of Anna Sui, with a focus on engraved silver charm bracelets, silver boxes and frames that hold pictures and similar items. Last fall, the pair launched sterling silver minaudières that retail from $1,600 to $7,300. The brand is carried by stores such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys New York. It also is sold at 80 specialty stores across the U.S., including Mitchell's in Greenwich, Conn.

The company had $5 million in retail sales in 2006 and aims for an increase to $7 million this year.

"We really struck a chord with both the older and the younger customer," said Rod Kosann. "If we enter a category, we want to make sure we're saying something that nobody else is."

The firm has introduced a charm collection and a jewelry line called the Gate Collection at the Couture fine jewelry trade show in Las Vegas. The pieces take inspiration from vintage lockets from the early 1900s.

The company also is launching a line of bespoke charms and bracelets in silver and gold ranging from $800 to $1,500. There are plans to incorporate exotic skins and leather in the bag collection, which has doubled in size since its inception.

"There was a period of time where every luxury accessory was made for women and men," Monica Rich Kosann said. "To me, all these pieces are modern-day heirlooms. All my pieces include photography as well."

The bags each come with a photo holder inside and many pendants feature a place for a picture of the wearer's loved one.

"Photos are archival," she added. "I want my pieces to also be archival."

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