By  on July 18, 2005

NEW YORK — Montblanc is expanding further into the women's arena this fall with the addition of fine jewelry to its assortment of pens, men's and women's fine watches, men's accessories and men's and women's leather goods.

"More females are roaming around our boutiques these days," said Wolff Heinrichsdorff, managing director of the Hamburg, Germany-based company, a subsidiary of Compagnie Financière Richemont. "And more women are buying for themselves. Women are increasingly the driving factor in luxury purchases."

Heinrichsdorff said that about five years ago the company noticed an increase in business from women buying gifts for men, and then for themselves, too. Today, some 50 to 60 percent of Montblanc shoppers are women.

The Montblanc jewelry line comprises three collections, designed from rhodinated silver with elements that may include colorful stones, mother-of-pearl, diamonds and Chinese lacquer. The Montblanc name and star logo are prominent design features, as are playful details like revolving pendants and reversible stones.

"We want the customer to be able to mix and match the pieces and have fun with them," said Heinrichsdorff. "We want them to be able to personalize and customize the jewelry."

Standout items from the unembellished Profile collection include the spinning "wish" ring that features a stable inner band and a contoured rotating outer band.

The Star collection features the brand's logo in items such as pendants that spin at the center and can be worn on colorful silk cord necklaces, and bangles that feature horizontal stripes in silver and black Chinese lacquer.

Bohème is the final collection and comprises rings, necklaces and bracelets with a young sensibility. Pieces include a bracelet of silver cubes, a few of which are double-sided and embedded with different stones on opposite faces, to be twisted based on the wearer's color preference for a particular outfit. There are also wide ring bands with a perforated Montblanc star and two colorful stones dangling from the front.

All the Montblanc jewelry will be made in Italy and will begin retailing this October in the company's 250 nationwide boutiques, at better department stores like Nordstrom and at select fine jewelers. Prices for Montblanc jewelry will range from $200 to $550.Heinrichsdorff declined to give sales projections for the fine jewelry, but he said he anticipates "solid double-digit growth" for the assortment.

Richemont's other brands include Van Cleef & Arpels, Piaget, Alfred Dunhill, Chloé and Lancel. In April, Richemont reported that sales rose 10.1 percent to 3.72 billion euros, or $4.88 billion, for the fiscal year ended March 3, citing its jewelry houses, watchmakers and writing instrument firms as contributing to the growth.

Heinrichsdorff said the company plans to introduce items to the jewelry collection every six months.

To advertise the launch of the line, Montblanc will roll out a print advertising campaign that will be its first to feature a female model. Heinrichsdorff said the model has not been confirmed. Ads will run in major fashion titles, including W, Vogue and Elle, as well as in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Montblanc celebrates its 100th anniversary next year. Part of the celebration may include more products for women, including a larger leather assortment.

"We are now active in almost 40 different countries," Heinrichsdorff said. "We have to feed our customers worldwide. They have many different preferences, and it's forcing us to think differently."

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