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Up to His Ears in Accessories : David Salvatore’s boutique at South Coast Plaza’s Crystal Court is a treasure trove of bejeweled items.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

So you’ve found a glitzy little number to wear to that New Year’s Eve bash, and all that’s missing is the perfect pair of earrings to match.

Just in time for the bubbly to flow, the David Salvatore accessory boutique has arrived in Orange County.

Step into the store, which opened just three weeks ago at South Coast Plaza’s Crystal Court in Costa Mesa, and you’ll find a treasure trove of bejeweled earrings in a full spectrum of brilliant hues.

Salvatore’s earrings and a smaller selection of his bracelets and necklaces come heavily endowed with colorful crystals and pearls, some the size of jawbreakers.

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“A lot of what we do is reminiscent of a bygone era. It’s a ladylike look,” says David Salvatore, the 27-year-old accessory designer who works out of New York City.

His opulent creations with their sparkling faux gems are the ideal foil to sequined ball gowns or beaded cocktail dresses.

“They’re perfect for after-5, but they can be worn with a pair of jeans,” says L. Andru Micheals, store manager.

Salvatore’s haute accessories are turning up all over the pages of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle and other fashion magazines. For a Vogue spread that re-enacted “Beauty and the Beast” in December, a model posing as Belle wore Salvatore’s big pearl-covered drop earrings.

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Salvatore has created jewelry for couture designers Carolina Herrera, Geoffrey Beene and “Bugle Bead” Bob Mackie, whose bead-covered confections need big bright earrings like Salvatore’s. In March he will introduce a line of accessories especially designed for Mackie.

“Often couture jewelry is scaled down for the public. We want to take the designs right off the runway and put them onto our customers’ ears,” Salvatore says.

Salvatore’s designs feature liberal use of smooth Lucite gems in rich colors called cabachons, as well as cut Austrian crystals and faux pearls. He likes to pile gems onto gems. Often he will take a big pearl or a large clear cabachon--appropriately called a gel--and cover it with crystals or fireballs, which are small beads studded with crystals.

“These are outrageous,” says Micheals, holding up a pair of big star-shaped drop earrings covered in fireballs that look like something from outer space.

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There’s also a pair of crystal-encrusted hoop earrings the size of bangle bracelets that Salvatore created for Herrera.

“Some of these things are huge,” Salvatore admits.

Women who don’t like big earrings because they weigh down their earlobes are often surprised at the lightness of Salvatore’s creations.

He designs with the wearer’s comfort in mind. He chooses lightweight materials and makes only clip-on earrings with smooth backings and cushioned clasps that don’t pinch the lobes.

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Salvatore’s earrings and accessories are grouped by color, in vivid reds, hot pinks, purples, greens and other jewel tones.

Many customers bring in their garments to find the perfect match.

If they can’t find a pair on the glass shelves that coordinates, they can special-order a pair from a palette of 28 different colors of crystal at no extra charge. They might choose earrings with a paler shade of blue crystals or even mix colors.

“We’ve done weird stuff with a bunch of crazy colors,” Micheals says.

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Necklaces can be lengthened or shortened, and pearls ordered in the size of a pea or a Ping-Pong ball in either a white or cream tone.

“You’re not going to hurt my feelings if you want a necklace 3 inches longer,” Salvatore says. “Just as clothes need to be altered to fit the person, so do accessories.”

One customer ordered a pair of pompon-style crystal earrings designed to graze the shoulders and had them shortened by a few inches. Special orders take three to five days, says Micheals, and those in a hurry for merchandise can have it delivered through overnight mail.

While some would expect to pay top dollar for couture accessories, Salvatore’s opulent pieces cost about $30 to $150 for a pair of earrings. The shop’s most expensive piece is a chain necklace with hundreds of crystal fireballs and clear cabachon beads for $600.

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Salvatore designs evening bags in vivid colors to match the earrings. They sell for about $22 for a lipstick case to $140 for a gold leather purse with a crystal-covered lid.

His structured handbags come in velvet, patent leather, a Chanel-inspired quilted leather, satin and solid beadwork. Most are adorned with his trademark gems and a few have a long chain strap that detaches to become a belt. The boutique also has sunglasses, felt hats and headbands studded with his crystals and pearls.

“Everything has a little something on it,” Micheals says.

Salvatore has been creating accessories for five years. He draws much inspiration for his elegant designs from his 56-year-old mother, Marjorie Brandt, owner of the accessory company.

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“I want to bring that level of elegance and sophistication she remembers from designers like Dior,” he says. His accessories tend to appeal to people 30 and up who want a more sophisticated look.

“Most of our customers tend to be dressier. They aren’t into earthy, natural things.”

In addition to the Crystal Court boutique, David Salvatore has stores in Washington, D.C., and Minnesota. A fourth store is planned for Dallas.

“We’ve hit a niche with customers who enjoy the elegance of it all,” Salvatore says.

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