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NEW YORK — Vera Wang is feeling a lot of Love for Zales.

This story first appeared in the August 11, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Today, Zale Corp. will unveil a new strategic partnership with the Vera Wang Group to launch Vera Wang Love, a diamond jewelry collection of engagement rings, wedding bands and solitaire jewelry. It will become available in about 500 Zales stores in North America, as well as on, in October, and will be supported by a marketing campaign ranging from in-store collateral to print advertising and TV commercials.

“Vera Wang has a uniquely American success story that resonates with us and we think will resonate with our [customers] and jewelry consultants,” Zale Corp.’s chief executive officer, Theo Killion, told WWD. “As a brand, she is the person most identified with the category that we are most identified with. The idea of being able to connect and partner with Vera Wang the person and the brand is tremendous for us.”

The sentiment was mutual. “I searched for a jewelry retail partner who met my quality and design philosophy and found Zale to be a perfect match,” Wang said.

The deal is expected to further extend Wang’s appeal in the more mainstream bridal sector. Wang also has a dress deal with David’s Bridal, offering wedding gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses under the White by Vera Wang label at the 300-plus mass retail chain.

“Vera now wants to complete the story of the David’s bride,” explained Vera Wang Group president Mario Grauso. “For so long with bridal, Vera never went into that price point. Now that she is in it, I think she should have a complete offering.

“Zales is an obvious place for us to go to do engagement rings and wedding bands,” Grauso added. “They are an exceptional partner, not just their organization and quality, but also because of their reach across the United States, which is similar to David’s.”

The Vera Wang Love collection will feature more than 50 engagement rings, each with a signature blue sapphire signifying everlasting love, according to Killion. The rings will be 14-karat gold, and stones — from five-eighths to three carats — will be round, princess, cushion or pear cut. Among the designs are solitaire and three-stone rings, as well as matching wedding bands for the groom and bride. Each ring will be engraved on the inside with the Vera Wang Love logo.

Engagement rings start at $1,999 and wedding bands at $649 retail. Zale Corp. did not reveal sales projections.

This isn’t Wang’s first venture into fine jewelry, though it is her first at these more accessible price points. In 2003, she launched a high-end fine jewelry collection with Rosy Blue Fine, with the bulk of the collection priced between $5,000 and $20,000 at retail. The high-end line no longer exists.

The ad campaign features model Rosie Tupper, who is also the face of Wang’s collection for David’s Bridal. In addition to print advertising and TV commercials that will air in November, the jewelry collection will be featured in Zales’ bridal and holiday books. Wang also worked on the packaging, a round gray suede box that fits a round paper box.

As for the future evolution of the collection, the immediate focus will remain on rings. “There is a very distinct possibility that we will expand the collection from a store standpoint and have it in more than 500 stores, but for right now, we will stick to our knitting, which is engagement rings and wedding bands,” Killion said.

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