NEW YORK — Whiting & Davis is setting its sights on the fine jewelry category.

This story first appeared in the November 14, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The brand, which will celebrate its 135th anniversary next year, was founded as Wade & Davis in 1876 as a fine jeweler and silversmith (it became Whiting & Davis in 1896). However, the main jewelry component was discontinued in 1981, and the company has focused on private label and industrial product manufacturing for two decades — until now.

“The company was originally formed as a fine jewelry maker, so we’re really excited about returning to our roots and bringing the brand back to fine jewelry,” said Whiting & Davis president Darrin Cutler, who acquired the company from Honeywell in February 2010. “In purchasing this division of Whiting & Davis, we acquired the original factory’s assets [in Attleboro Falls, Mass.], which includes an incredible amount of history, molds and original patterns.”

The newly renovated 15,000-square-foot factory (located two miles from the original location) contains executive and administrative offices, and a new studio and showroom have been added, as well, according to Cutler, who said the team is studying archives that date back to the late 1870s for inspiration, as well as for design cues to incorporate into the line going forward.

Cutler plans to transform the company into an entirely fine jewelry brand that incorporates the use of its signature metal mesh — along with sterling silver, 18-karat gold and semiprecious stones such as tourmaline, topaz, amethyst, citrine and onyx.

The 50-piece collection made its debut earlier this month and retails from $100 for a pair of sterling silver earrings to $6,500 for an 18-karat gold mesh necklace. An expanded sophomore collection will be unveiled at The Couture Show in Las Vegas next year — also the industry’s premier trade show for the category — and Cutler said offerings will include more one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as more diamonds and the use of mixed metals.

He projects $4 million to $5 million in retail sales for the category in the first year.

The collection is available online at whitinganddaviscollection.com and Cutler said he’s searching for strong retail partnerships as the company enters the sales and marketing portion of its reintroduction into the market. Another facet of the brand’s reintroduction into jewelry includes a studio collection, which is comprised of one-of-a-kind and custom pieces and is priced upon request.

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