By  on May 7, 2007

Inspired by their hometown of High Point, N.C., which is known for its furniture and decorative arts trades, sisters Heath and Landon Slane wanted to make silver jewelry that would be passed down from generation to generation.

They formed Slane & Slane LLC in 1997 with a focus on architectural and nature-inspired silver cuff bracelets, necklaces, rings and similar items in a lush New York showroom filled with antique furniture and mementos of their childhood. Soon, they brought gold, diamonds and colored gemstones into the mix. The texture and heft of the pieces were important to them from the start. They had to have warmth to them, so the metals have a brushed or textured finish. Pieces had to have some weight, since the designers wanted the feel of an old silver tea set.

"We watched how our families treat their silverware," said Landon Slane, who lives in New York; her sister lives in Los Angeles. "There's all this care and value of people treasuring it. We wanted it to have that same warmth to it."

Signature pieces include a ribbed-gold cuff bracelet, an eternity knot pendant and a bee motif, the Napoleonic symbol of wisdom, strength and nobility. Retail prices range from $175 for a pair of small silver earrings to $15,000 for a gold necklace with a pavé diamond toggle.

Later this month, the firm is to launch a line called the Sterling Silver and 18 Karat Gold Collection, with retail prices of $650 to $3,700.

"It's a whole new playground for us," Heath Slane said of the collection, which includes a new subtle "S" logo motif in rings, earrings and pendants. "This jewelry is very approachable and very woman-friendly."

The Slanes, who have a devoted following, hired Marion Davidson as president and chief operating officer in 2004. Davidson, who had stints at Tiffany & Co., Montblanc and Hermès, had a mission to grow the company by branding and opening a wider window of wholesale distribution.

The brand recorded sales growth of 100 percent in 2005 with the addition of Neiman Marcus to its vendor list, and leveled off slightly with 20 percent growth in 2006. Davidson projects a gain of 40 percent this year, with the opening of as many as 45 guild jewelry store accounts in the U.S., added to the 10 the firm has opened since January, and about 20 accounts in the Caribbean.The Slanes did not want to give exact sales figures, but industry sources estimated the company could hit $20 million in retail sales this year.

The line is also in six Saks Fifth Avenue doors and three Holt Renfrew doors in Canada.

"They don't look like anybody else," said Jim Rosenheim, chief executive officer of Tiny Jewel Box in Washington, which carries the line. "They make a nice product with a distinctive look to it. A lot of professional women like their jewelry. They've carved a nice niche in the marketplace."

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