Designers Take the Plunge

Two well-known jewelry designers are looking to spice up the bridal category and at the same time boost their own brands. While the branded designer jewelry category has generally focused on designers who establish their own fashion and look, both Jose Hess and Steven Lagos hope to take a nibble from the lucrative bridal category by extending their brands to engagement and wedding rings.

Hess, who launched his new platinum bridal line at the JA New York and JCK Orlando shows, says the line is a way for him to diversify his collection. He has created a mix-and-match line of 46 engagement rings and 46 wedding bands that can be combined to create suites for individual tastes.

“It’s very different from anything else in the market,” Hess says. “It’s really geared toward sophisticated tastes.”

It’s the first bridal jewelry collection Hess has done in the more than 45 years he has spent designing and creating fine jewelry.

At the same time, Lagos has created his own line of bezel-set bridal jewelry that captures the signature look he has been establishing for years through both his wholesale and retail categories. Lagos was inspired, he said, by the bezel-set engagement ring he designed for his wife, Ann.

“I founded Lagos on the simple premise of creating museum-quality jewelry that is both beautiful and easy to wear,” Lagos says. “Lagos Bridal combines these design elements with a hint of practicality to offer women a fashionable yet classic alternative to traditional prong-set engagement rings.” Lagos Bridal, which comprises mountings only, has a retail price range from $1,800 to about $4,500.

The Lagos collection, also launched at the winter trade shows, is geared toward the contemporary bride. In conjunction with the new line, Lagos introduced a new Web site, www.bezelsarebetter.com, to help educate consumers about bridal jewelry purchases. The site, with a comic book design and a star-crossed-lovers story line, is geared specifically toward bridal jewelry customers. The site also features contests and giveaways.

Hess, whose collection ranges from classic prong-set rings to sleeker bezel-set pieces, is retailing the collection for $1,500 to $5,000 (mountings only). The collection is available in platinum or 18k gold.

Both designers are supporting their new collections with national consumer advertising.