NEW YORK — Although Manhattan has no shortage of jewelry boutiques, that didn’t stop two budding firms — K.C. Thompson and TeNo — from opening their first freestanding stores last month.

This story first appeared in the June 10, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Many new jewelry designers wait years before they decide to open their own store. But not Kristen Thompson, who founded her jewelry company K.C. Thompson last year and has just opened a boutique on East 72nd Street here showcasing her designs.

“I wanted to create an overall experience and the best way I think to do it is by having my own store,” Thompson said.

These stores join a number of other accessory firms who have opened shops recently in New York, including Tag Heuer, Di Modolo and Montblanc.

Thompson’s 1,000-square-foot boutique is designed to be a place where women can relax for a while amidst fine jewelry and an elegant environment. Designed as a “pampered women’s dressing room,” the store has large vanity mirrors where shoppers can sit and try on jewelry, as well as comfortable couches in bright pink. On the walls are vintage illustrations and behind the store is a garden area, which will be used for events and parties.

The store, a former nail salon, is tucked into the back of a high-end shopping complex that includes a hair salon and shoe store Stubbs & Wooten.

Thompson’s jewelry pieces include dangle necklaces made of large semiprecious stones and pearls, as well as large flower earrings reminiscent of vintage pieces. Among the stones she favors are cornelian, turquoise and coin pearls. Many of the styles have an 18-karat gold clasp in the shape of a butterfly, which is Thompson’s logo. Retail prices for her jewelry range from about $800 to $1,895, with some special pieces.

Thompson, a soft-spoken women who originally hails from Wisconsin, worked in interior design and other fields before settling on jewelry, which has always been a passion.

“I love stones and color,” Thompson added. “Its not like your grandmother’s jewelry. It’s fun and it feels good.”

Meanwhile, TeNo is pushing into retail with a clean, white space fit for its minimalist, stark jewelry. Last month, the three-year-old firm opened a 700-square-foot store at 65 Spring Street in SoHo.

“This is such an excellent area with good foot traffic and a nice range of mid- to high-end customers,” owner Gil Gordon, who also owns the Penzer and Silver Square jewelry boutiques in Manhattan, said at the opening.

TeNo’s Spring Street assortment includes stainless steel engagement, wedding and partnership rings; bracelets; cuff links; necklaces; earrings; pendants; belts, and rings. Some pieces have diamond or ceramic inlays. The store also sells TeNo’s collection of stainless steel watches with a rubber strap, which have a mechanical feel. Prices at TeNo range from $75 to $5,000.

Gordon, who hails from Tel Aviv, entered the jewelry business more than 15 years ago and started selling TeNo in his Penzer and Silver Square stores in Manhattan. The TeNo boutique’s interior is filled with bright fluorescent light, and glass and steel display cases are graphically positioned in a straight line separating customers from the sales staff.

Gordon is launching the TeNo store in partnership with Raphael Cohen, president of Farmingham, Mass.-based Universal Watch Co., which also distributes the Akteo and Boccia watch lines in the U.S. Gordon said he projects first-year sales for the TeNo unit at more than $750,000, and there are plans for two more TeNo stores in Manhattan.”

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