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Essie Reinterprets Message in a Bottle

Essie to launch a nail color collection inspired by jewelry designer Judith Ripka.

Even in tough times, Essie Weingarten is determined to make sure customers get a piece of the rock — the precious kind — this summer.

Weingarten, founder and president of the nail polish firm that bears her name, plans to launch a nail color collection inspired by jewelry designer Judith Ripka — and not only will each bottle of polish be infused with diamond dust, but also three bottles will have an extra special gift-with-purchase: one will contain a diamond, a second a sapphire and a third an emerald.

“What’s not to love about buying a $15 bottle of nail polish that might have a diamond, sapphire or emerald in it?” said Weingarten (who swears the stones will be perfectly usable after a nail polish remover bath). Of the collaboration — Weingarten’s first to be broadly distributed — she said, “Judith loves diamonds as much as I do, and she is known for her beautiful jewelry designs with precious and semiprecious stones — so the tie-in made sense.” The collection will be cross-merchandised through Essie’s and Ripka’s Web sites.

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The collection, which bows in August, includes three colors: Put a Ripka Ring on It, a soft pink; Heart My JR Jewels, a deep burgundy, and Queen of Hearts, a true red. Each of the shades is infused with diamond dust, intended to give the colors a soft glow that isn’t sparkly, said Weingarten. As a bonus, she noted, the diamond dust also makes the colors adhere more strongly to nails.

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For the first time, Essie nail colors will be sold in soft-touch boxes to prevent customers from trying to scope out bottles containing the jewels before purchase.

While Weingarten declined to discuss sales projections, industry sources estimated the collection could do $500,000 at retail.

Essie products are carried by 100,000 spa, salon and beauty doors in the U.S., including Ulta, Canyon Ranch and Miraval. Globally, Essie products are available in 250,000 salons and spas in 95 countries.

Weingarten’s company, founded in 1981 with 12 nail colors, has blossomed to more than 300 shades, and expanded to include nail treatments, spa products and lip glosses. Prior to starting her own firm, which she runs with business partner and Essie chief executive officer Max Sortino, Weingarten was a buyer for Henri Bendel.