GEM DANDY
BARSE’S FASHION JEWELRY CATERS TO ACCESSORIES AFICIONADOS ON THE HUNT FOR COLORFUL — AND DISTINCT — SEMIPRECIOUS JEWELS.

Byline: Holly Haber

At Barse, fashion jewelry starts with a piece of the rock. The company buys big rough stones by the pound and cuts and facets them to its own specifications at its factory in Thailand. It then sets the semiprecious gems in sterling or strings them into colorful necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
“It gives us design flexibility,” said owner and chief executive officer Michael Gobril, as he displayed a hefty chunk of denim lapis at the company’s headquarters in Dallas. “We can cut in any shape or size. Other companies are limited by the regular shapes that are stocked by suppliers.”
Barse works with such a large variety of stones that some necklaces and bracelets feature as many as 15 different elements. Black onyx is a perennial bestseller, Gobril said, while green and pale blue turquoise are the hottest fashion colors of the moment. Color is the name of the game at Barse, which is known for jewelry in a broad palette of hues. It’s currently styling jewelry with green gaspeite, jade, yellow jasper, hot pink garnet, red spiny oyster shell, deep green amazonite, purple amethyst, smoky topaz and freshwater pearls in a variety of colors. In April, Barse will show a group of turquoise mixed with smoky topaz, and the company is moving into more expensive stones, including pale blue and orange chalcedony and green chrysoprase.
Earrings wholesale on average between $12 to $18; bracelets from $18 to $28 and necklaces from $7 to $142, for a six-strand coin-pearl necklace.
Barse’s variety, price and quick delivery have made the company a core supplier to major department store chains, including Nordstrom, Jacobson’s and Dillard’s, as well as about 4,000 specialty store accounts, of which half are gift stores. The company has also started selling to distributors in Europe.
While independent stores often avoid lines that have a major presence in department stores, they don’t have a problem with Barse because the line is so big they can easily stock different pieces. Barse introduces a whopping 800 new units at each market and keeps 1,500 to 2,000 constantly in the line. “The specialty stores help because they give us a lot of our direction,” Gobril said. “They buy newness, but the department stores prefer to stay on reorders and focus on a core group.”
Some of Barse’s newer trends are stones strung on leather cord, and porcelain medallions set in sterling and mounted on leather cuffs.
“We are doing a lot more faceted stones and less nuggets, and more leather,” said co-designer Naomi Carreon.
All this adds up to $17 million in annual sales for Barse plus the honors of winning the Dallas Fashion Award for jewelry in 1997 and 2000, plus DIVA jewelry awards from the AmericasMart in Atlanta in 1997, 1999 and 2000.
The company is contemplating expanding into new categories, and last spring it added a small group of beaded handbags and coin purses.
Barse is also considering adding home products and a retail store in an affluent suburb of Dallas, such as Plano.
“Everyone here wants to do home accessories,” said president Melanie Gobril, Michael’s wife, “but that requires space and contacts and the right product people. We don’t want to duplicate what’s already on the market.”

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