Byline: Rusty Williamson

Diane Katzman’s love of accessories runs in the family. Her great-grandfather was a watchmaker for the New Jersey railroad industry in the mid-1800s. What’s more, her husband’s family owned a retail jewelry business for several years.
So, it surprised no one when Katzman, based in St. Louis, Mo., last year gave up a career as a college marketing professor to launch a fashion jewelry collection.
What has pleasantly shocked Katzman and her family, however, is how quickly the line became a hit at retail.
For its first full year of business, her company, Diane Katzman Jewelry Design, is angling for sales of $500,000.
The line launched for spring at June market and is being shown at GeNe Sales, in 4328.
The collection of sterling, freshwater pearl, semiprecious gemstone and antique findings already has hooked more than 60 accounts. Nearly all of them are better-to-designer specialty stores, including Esther Wolf, Houston; Rubinstein’s, New Orleans; Hall’s, Kansas City, Mo., and At Home Gramercy Park, New York.
And Katzman claims that most of her accounts have reordered at least twice since they first took receipt of her line.
“The reason my line has sold so well is because it’s affordable designer jewelry at a bridge price, and it’s an unusual look with one-of-a-kind appeal,” said Katzman.
It’s what could be considered retailer-friendly positioning. “I want my jewelry to move off the shelves at retail. It’s priced for mainstream consumers.
“I think sometimes that art-inspired and designer jewelry are priced so high that they don’t sell quickly. Retailers want merchandise that will check quickly.”
Katzman often adds a whimsical touch to her collection by stringing an antique heart charm on some of the designs.
“I have a dealer who collects hearts for me that date from the 1890s to the 1940s. I incorporate the hearts into each of my designs,” she explained.
“I love the mix of the Old World craftsmanship represented in the charms along with fresh and new materials that comprise my looks. It’s an eclectic style that can be modern or antique. We’re selling to teen girls and women in their 90s.”
Katzman’s spring collection includes more than 200 items, with wholesale prices from $20 for a pair of earrings or a bracelet to $190 for an intricately detailed sterling silver necklace.
She believes that colorful beaded and pearl earrings that dangle an inch or so below the ear will be an important spring trend, along with chokers and lariat-style necklaces.
It was a family matter — coaching her young daughters in elementary arithmetic — that brought to Katzman the earliest inspiration for her business.
“I was actually stringing beads with my little girls as a hands-on approach to math,” recalled Katzman.

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