Bare Collection has secured a patent for its popular constellation jewelry and is signing its first major national retailer to fuel a growth spurt.
The Los Angeles-based brand received a patent on Dec. 13 for the process of layering at least two star signs atop each other in what can be described as a family constellation. The patent aids the company’s strategy to double its sales next year. It is expanding into Saks Fifth Avenue, which began carrying Bare’s pieces in its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York in November and plans to introduce them on its e-commerce site in late January. With less than $1 million in sales, it also targets the addition of 10 specialty stores in 2017, to round out its current network of eight retailers, including Des Kohan, Roseark, Ten Over Six, By George and Michele Varian.
“I’m looking for organic growth,” said Jeet Sohal, who founded Bare in 2003 after working as a consultant in the biotech sphere. “I’m a maker, not a designer. I like the touch process. Explosive growth that takes me away from the core of my business that I like, is not in my future.”
Launched with a concept of offering made-in-L.A. jewelry that is substantial in feel but very lightweight so that it doesn’t pull on a woman’s ears, Sohal introduced the constellation series in 2008. Bare’s prices start at $76 for one of its top sellers, a ring formed from a circle of tiny beads hammered by hand, and climb up to $850 for a half-inch pendant in 14-karat gold with a single constellation on a fine chain, then to $18,000 for a two-inch pendant layered with five constellations in 18-karat gold on a handmade link.
“I’m fascinated with the stars,” she said. “Believing in something bigger than yourself but not tied to religion has resonated with Millennials and my contemporaries.”
Filed in September, the patent covers the manufacture of “decorative ornamentation relating to constellations,” in which the patterns of the constellations are superimposed on each other, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. As the owner of a small business who makes 90 percent of her products in her own studio and hires diamond setters working out of downtown Los Angeles, Sohal has recognized the urgency to protect her idea.
“When I had the idea for a family constellation, I knew it was a concept that was unique enough to merit patenting,” she explained. “It’s a concept someone much larger can pick up and roll out very strong and make it be their idea.”
Since the jewelry displaying the family constellation is custom-made, Sohal works with retailers who take the orders or deals with consumers directly on the phone and at appointments in her studio. Though normally using diamonds in the designs that require up to three weeks for production, she said, “We would be able to do virtually any stone.” For the uninitiated, the pattern may appear random. For the wearer, “it’s personal but private,” she said, especially for those who work at corporations that discourage revealing too much in personalized jewelry.
“This is meant to be a personal memento that you’ll have as an heirloom you’ll pass on forever,” she said.
Because the patent addresses decorative ornamentation rather than specific jewelry, Sohal can apply her patent to various forms of accessories — for instance, necklace pendants and drop earrings attached to studs — as well as other wares like furniture.
“I’ve been in talks with a furniture designer in New York,” she said. “She does beautiful shagreen coffee tables with precious stone inlay. They’re gorgeous. We had talked about doing a coffee table with a family constellation.”