Debut Review: Baby Phat

Months after a much-hyped announcement in early 2004 that jewelry industry giant Fabrikant would be teaming with urban fashion guru Kimora Lee Simmons, the resulting collection hit the stores to a much quieter fanfare in November. The Baby Phat “Diamond Diva” collection, currently available only at Bloomingdale’s and Marshall Fields, is the first of several lines in the works for the Fabrikant-Simmons collaborative Simmons Jewelry Co.

Kimora Lee Simmons, CEO and creative director for Simmons Jewelry Co., designed the Baby Phat collection. A well-known proponent of lavish luxuries, Simmons echoes what jewelers and fashion editors have been chanting for years: diamonds are fashion accessories to be worn every day, not only for special occasions.

The affordability of much of the collection supports that idea and appeals to consumers who already are avid fans of her Baby Phat line.

“Simmons Jewelry Co. believes that fine-quality diamonds can be affordable. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to live the diamond lifestyle. Everyone can afford to have my look—you can be ‘phabulous’ at any price point,” says Simmons in a statement. “Simmons Jewelry Co. wants to give women what they really want … not just jewelry, but real fashion.”

The 75-piece collection includes industry trends such as letter pendants and standards like semiprecious cocktail rings. It does, however, gain momentum when it begins combining standards with design elements that identify Simmon’s style and her Baby Phat lines of other accessories. The oversized signature cat hoops are a little overboard, appealing only to those who truly are infatuated with the brand itself, but the charm bracelets that combine that cat with shoe, heart, key, and purse charms look fresh.

One design element that hits the spot is heavy chain link. Reminiscent of those heavy gold link chains sported by everyone from hip-hop celebrities to professional athletes, this design element looks completely modern fashioned into linear drop earrings with diamond accents, for example.

The diamond hoop earrings are fairly standard fine-jewelry fare, though the signature tear-drop shape adds interest and character. Unfortunately, the chandelier-ish briolette-studded dangle earrings miss the mark.

Overall, the collection offers a brand-extending signature style with big looks for affordable pricing (retail prices start at $375). With some minor editing of the standards, Baby Phat fine jewelry may actually be one of the most successful lines at bridging the fashion-to-fine jewelry gap with a recognizable style.

While obviously fashion conscious, the jewelry company also is socially conscious: For at least two years, 25% of Simmons’ proceeds from jewelry sales will be given to programs and services in Africa, to benefit communities in countries where diamonds are mined and the populace is affected by political factions.