Supplier News

JERRY MADISON TO HEAD NEW FANTASY DIVISION

Jerry Madison has joined Fantasy Diamond Corp., Chicago, Ill., as vice president of a new division called Masterpiece by Fantasy. The line will mark a return to what Madison calls “the old Jerry Madison flavor and look, but with a modernized appearance utilizing tapered baguettes.”

The line initially will comprise about 60 rings, pendants, earrings and pins featuring baguette diamond accents and retailing for $199 to $399. Some will be available with colored stones.

Madison started his own company in 1969 and sold it to Oro America in 1994. He became head of the Jerry Madison Division of OroAmerica, but differences in philosophy led to his departure in May 1995. “We had a very narrow line with no latitude, and it wasn’t the right fit for me,” he says. “Fantasy offered me the opportunity to broaden its line and create a new category in which the company had never been before.”

Louis Price, president of Fantasy and Masterpiece, says Madison’s fashion-forward styling is a good extension for the company. “We’re always on the lookout for incremental business opportunities,” he says. “When Jerry showed us his ideas for the new line, I realized the concept has terrific potential.” Price says he is cautiously optimistic and that the line received strong acceptance by those who had an early look.

LOW-PROFILE ASTORIA JUMPS ON THE FAST TRACK

Astoria Jewelry Manufacturing Co. is always looking to the future. The company was one of the first jewelry makers to take advantage of the large spaces and low lease rates across the East River when it moved in 1989 from 47 St. in Manhattan to 47 Ave. in Long Island City, Queens. The company went from 9,500 sq. ft. at the old location to 18,000 sq. ft. at the new one

This year, the 46-year-old company is expanding again, but not in terms of space. Chief Executive Howard Zeller and Senior Vice President Bruce Rubin are changing Astoria from a low-profile karat gold jewelry and diamond company to one with a wide-open marketing mission featuring a 150-plus-style line of “Natural Fit” anniversary rings.

According to Astoria, this is the first time a full collection of diamond anniversary rings has been made with a patented rounded interior shank designed with no flat edges. The rings are available with pearls and selected colored gemstones, as well.

The collection, 30 styles of which were introduced last June, marks the beginning of Astoria’s bridal division. The emphasis will be the 1-ct. anniversary band, says Jerry DelVescovo, vice president of sales. But the collection also includes other weights for the anniversary rings as well as solitaires and wedding sets.

Natural Fit joins the successful Byzantine Collection (under $1,000 retail), which Astoria launched last year.

The company plans to use both lines to reach a greater number of independent jewelers, says Zeller, son of founder Joe Zeller, now retired. Zeller and Rubin have put the company on a fast track that has resulted in 50% sales increases in each of the past three years. “We continue to be very active with the large chain stores and are now creating this product we think is perfect for the independent jeweler,” he says. Astoria doesn’t sell to discounters and strives to assure no overlap in styles between chains and independents.

Rubin adds that Astoria is fully vertically integrated. The company’s 100 to 125 workers make all of Astoria’s molds, findings and tools; they even create the company’s own handcrafted specialty mesh chain. “Therefore, the retailer can have more flexibility regarding reorders and, in some cases, creating custom orders.”

SUPPLIERS ON THE GROW

Spartan Showcase Inc., a maker of retail store showcases, has reopened its Reno, Nev., facility to serve West Coast clients. The headquarters office in Union, Mo., will serve clients in the East and Midwest.

Oro International developed a new product line featuring children’s art works etched on sterling silver, handpainted, lacquered and made into pendants, pins, key chains or watches. The line, called Kids Art Works, is carried by 750 stores and features point-of-purchase displays and color brochures. One dollar of each purchase will be donated to the Starlight Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides special wishes and recreation to critically ill children.

Oro International, 5 N. Wabash, Chicago, Ill. 60602; (800) 621-1671 or (312) 641-0091

Kunzmann Chain & Jewelry, Warwick, R.I., has acquired the Armbrust semiprecious and base metal chain business. A new entity, Armbrust International, now operates from Armbrust’s facility in Providence, R.I. The companies will share markets and production capabilities.

Val Saint Lambert crystal is now distributed in the U.S. by David Freiman, (212) 979-8929. Reed & Barton Silversmiths, Taunton, Mass., no longer distributes the brand.

Chippenhook, a designer and producer of displays and packaging, has formed an alliance with Visual Impact Systems, a visual merchandising system for jewelry store windows. Visual Impact, founded in 1993 by Ed McBride, is based in Edmonton, Canada. It develops 24 window display images for retailers, six of them new each year. The program includes ad mats, counter cards, color posters and all materials needed for the window displays. The target market is select independent and regional chain stores in the U.S., the Caribbean and Central America.

Chippenhook, 3105 Justin Rd., Lewisville, Tex. 75067; (800) 527-5866.

Swatch commissioned 12 Art Clock Towers globally, including a 21-foot high sculpture at the entrance to the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, to celebrate the centennial of the modern Olympic Games. The UCLA tower, called Winged Victory 1996, was made by artist Stefan Lindfors and pays homage to the Greek sculpture Winged Victory made in 190 B.C. A transparent fabric-covered frame is on an axle that allows the wing to rotate in the wind. In the tower are two large Swatch clocks mounted back-to-back and decorated with gold leaf. Nearby, a Swatch clock displays the time remaining until the July 19 start of the summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Ga. Swatch is the official timekeeper of the games.