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Neil Lane Opens New Store

Hollywood jeweler expands and seeks to broaden base.

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LOS ANGELES — Neil Lane has become one of Hollywood’s go-to jewelers from behind two counters at a tiny, hard-to-find private salon on Beverly Boulevard here.

Now, Lane has visions of broadening his brand’s reach with the opening today of a larger location on La Cienega Boulevard.

“I am ready to take the platform as a major player in the world of fashion and jewels,” Lane said. “I am the kind of guy that doesn’t leap until I see that something is there, and I feel I am in a position to take that next step.”

Lane certainly took his time with the 1,400-square-foot La Cienega store around the corner from Melrose Place. Since Lane’s arrival in Los Angeles from New York about 20 years ago, the Beverly Boulevard location was his brand’s only home until it closed after a fire in April.

Lane and architect David Montalba, who also worked on Monique Lhuillier’s bridal salon next door to the Neil Lane store, are responsible for the look of the new space. The airy store is splashed in neutral shades of light brown and features white oak custom jewelry cases that use keyless, electronic locks. Frosted windows protect shoppers’ privacy.

The store carries the breadth of Lane’s jewelry designs, from engagement rings to statement stunners to layerable chains, and prices run from less than $1,000 to almost $3 million. Rough-cut and colored diamonds, as well as classic white diamonds, are prominent.

At the rear, there’s a case filled with more than $10 million worth of vintage pieces, including a necklace of rubies and diamonds that was owned by Brooke Astor. Next to the case is a picture of Missy Elliott and Madonna from a Gap campaign in which Twenties-era bracelets from Lane’s collection were worn.

Celebrities, from Barbra Streisand in Lane’s early days to the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Ellen DeGeneres and Miley Cyrus today, have worn his pieces. But until now, Lane hasn’t turned the Hollywood spotlight into an engine for rapid growth. “I have never been the guy who took the fast buck,” he said.

Lane, the sole owner of the company, noted that his business has been marked by consistent profitability. Although he wouldn’t specify an estimate for first-year sales at the store, he suggested it could be in the “millions.”

Last year, Lane said sales grew 35 percent over 2006. In addition, he said the troubled economy could open up opportunities to partner with companies searching for brands that retain consumer loyalty even in hard times.

Lane, who has eschewed licensing, said the time is right to push ahead with it, especially deals that would expand his brand’s presence in the bridal world. He’s also considering bringing on a chief executive officer to help grow his client base. “I definitely would like to bring taste to the masses,” Lane said.

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