Taste for Old Jewelry Inspires a Vintage Idea

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Anyone who watches "Melrose Place," "Beverly Hills 90210" or "Friends" has seen the work of Orange County jewelry designer Lori Gincig.

The 37-year-old Irvine resident creates the delicate, vintage-looking beaded necklaces and earrings that some of the hottest actresses on TV adore. Courtney Cox and Jennifer Aniston of "Friends," Jennie Garth of "90210" and Laura Leighton of "Melrose" all regularly sport Gincig's wispy designs.

Gincig's line, Lori Lori, features bracelets, earrings, anklets and necklaces made of small colored crystals, pearls and faceted beads strung on extra-fine chains.

Among Gincig's most popular designs are her T-shaped necklaces with beaded center drops, which look a little like rosary beads.

A jewelry designer for two years, Gincig spent six months developing Lori Lori. She was inspired by antique jewelry dating from the turn of the century to the 1930s.

"Lori Lori started out of my love of vintage jewelry," Gincig says. "I collect it, but it's hard to find, and it's expensive, so I started playing around with a line that looked vintage."

Gincig's love of antiques is visible in her home, which she has furnished with Victorian and Art Deco lamps, chairs, tables and other vintage furniture.

"I collect antique dishes, bedspreads, perfume bottles and anything Art Deco," says Gincig, a former antiques dealer.

The self-described "jewelry addict" has a collection of antique necklaces, many with crystals strung on fine chains that look like ancestors to her Lori Lori designs.

"Grandmothers will come in [to a Lori Lori trunk show] and say, 'This reminds me of something that belonged to my mother,' " Gincig says. "Some of the pieces look more Victorian, and some are more Art Deco--they're streamlined and geometric."

Her first design was a single strand crystal lariat, which she made in November 1993. Since then, she has created thousands of pieces that are "more delicate, less gaudy" than most contemporary fashion jewelry.

Gincig's timing could not have been better.

After years of oversized earrings, big bangles and long "duster" earrings, women have been ready for a change in jewelry design. Smaller, minimalist styles were just beginning to catch on when Gincig began peddling her line.

"I submitted my jewelry to the costume designer of 'Melrose Place.' They still purchase groups of jewelry," she says.

One of Gincig's first big hits was "The Sydney," an emerald green drop necklace named after Leighton's character on "Melrose," which the actress wore on the show.

"People were demanding the Sydney necklace," says Gincig, who employs 20 workers to assemble her pieces. "We still sell it."

Arthel Nevelle, a host of TV's "Extra," can be seen wearing her Lori Lori necklaces nightly.

"I think [Nevelle's] responsible for a lot of our sales. She's on every night at prime time, and she looks beautiful in the jewelry," Gincig says.

Lori Lori has also been seen on daytime soaps, including "One Life to Live" and "The Young and the Restless." When soap fans saw Victor give Hope a necklace on the latter, the antique-looking piece was a Lori Lori.

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Costume designers fax Gincig their scripts so she can make jewelry for a wedding scene or a formal.

Some celebs wear them off-screen as well.

"Courtney Cox has her own private collection, and the girls on 'Melrose Place' take it home," Gincig says. "Jennie Garth [from 'Beverly Hills 90210'] wears it all the time."

Every time an actress is seen wearing Lori Lori, Gincig sees a jump in demand for her product.

"It's spread like fire," she says. "I can't catch my breath."

Lori Lori sells at Nordstrom and BCBG clothing boutique in Fashion Island Newport Beach. Necklaces retail for about $48 to $125, earrings $32 to $62. Thousands of pieces sell each month, Gincig says.

"The pieces bring good luck. I get letters and calls from women saying, 'I wore it on my first date, and now I'm in love.' "

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Lori Lori designs are made of sterling silver chains (oxidized to make them look aged) and imported Czech crystals in more than 30 colors.

"I'm constantly revamping the palette depending on the season. During the holidays there was a lot of rich jewel tones such as garnet, jet, pearls and emerald," she says. "During the bridal season, there's a lot of soft pastels."

Gincig names all of her designs. "The Flapper" comes with four drops of beads, while "The Vintage Tie" crosses at the neck.

One reason for the line's success, Gincig says, is that women can wear the jewelry with suits, party clothes or blue jeans. "They're drawn to its versatility."

Lori Lori's success has also spawned imitators, but the designer isn't worried about copycats.

"I'm just flattered. Anyone who is innovative and brings something new to fashion is going to be copied."

She tries to stay a step ahead of her rivals by dreaming up new designs.

"[Competition] inspires me to create more."

Gincig, a native of Los Angeles who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, wants to design sleepwear for women.

"My fantasy is to create a romantic, Victorian line," she says. "But as to what I'll do next, I'd just say, 'Stay tuned.' "

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