NEW YORK — It’s the dawn of another round of fashion shows in New York and jewelry company Erickson Beamon is deep in the midst of doing what it has done nearly every season for the last two decades: making bold jewels to accessorize apparel down the runways.
This season, however, is slightly different for the New York-based company. As it readies jewelry for Anna Sui, Donna Karan and other shows, the company is also preparing for a new venture, the launch of its first diamond jewelry collection.
“It’s the right time for this,” said Karen Erickson, co-founder and co-owner of Erickson Beamon, in a interview at her Seventh Avenue showroom. “We have thought about this for a few years and it all came together now.”
The diamond collection is coming at a key time for the firm. Erickson Beamon celebrates its 20th anniversary this year — an occasion that will be marked with a celebration at Barneys’ Manhattan flagship this Friday night, hosted by Sandra Bernhard and China Chow. The diamond line is making its debut at Barneys this fall.
The firm is also exploring a variety of new ventures, including opening its first store in the U.S. and making a bigger push into other accessories categories, including handbags.
The premier diamond jewelry collection includes plenty of chandelier earrings — an Erickson Beamon staple — along with drop earrings, chokers, longer necklaces and bracelets, all of which are crafted in 18-karat white gold. Wholesale prices start at about $600 for single-strand earrings and range up to $38,000 for a large diamond necklace. Erickson projects the diamond line alone could reach first-year sales of about $7 million.
Erickson began making jewelry in 1983 with her friend Vicki Sarge and her husband, Eric, when she couldn’t find jewelry to accompany a runway show she was working on. They strung together crystals and beads on suede — a style that has always stayed among the Erickson Beamon offerings.
Today, the company is known for its beaded chandelier earrings and its bold necklaces made with semiprecious and precious stones, as well as its unusual headpieces. The brand, which has annual sales of about $12 million, often appears in editorial photo shoots, and on the necks and wrists of socialites and celebrities.
Sarge, who has been based in London since 1985 and oversees Erickson Beamon’s business there, said she credits the brand’s success in large part to its emphasis on overall trends and what’s going on outside of the jewelry arena.
“We have always focused on fashion,” said Sarge. “At the beginning, our goal was to make glamorous jewelry that was not as expensive as fine jewelry. In fact, then we were antifine jewelry, so we have now come full circle with the diamond collection.”
The Erickson Beamon store in London also includes a selection of jewelry from other designers, and a small production facility.
Erickson and Sarge, who were friends in Detroit before moving to Manhattan in the late Seventies, speak multiple times a day and have managed to maintain a healthy partnership, both women said.
Although the company has been in business for two decades, Erickson Beamon has resisted stamping its name on other categories. It started using semiprecious and precious stones a few years ago, and has made a limited selection of handbags.
“We have grown organically on our own time, with our own money,” Erickson said. “I get ideas from everywhere. I design all the time, especially late at night.”
Erickson also owns Showroom Seven, which represents a wide range of apparel and accessories clients, including Imitation of Christ, Petro Zillia and Orla Kiely.
Her professional life remains a family affair. Her husband is involved in the business end at Erickson Beamon and also oversees some of the manufacturing. Her younger daughter, Monique, works with her as director of sales at Erickson Beamon, while her older daughter, Mandie, oversees Seventh House public relations, an independent publicity firm that operates upstairs from Showroom Seven. Erickson said she splits her time evenly between Erickson Beamon and Showroom Seven.
While product and merchandising are at the heart of Erickson Beamon’s success, Erickson said she also credits the practice of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, with helping her achieve both her personal and professional goals.
“It helps keep me calm,” said Beamon. “I have learned to let go and I don’t worry as much anymore.”