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Gem Dandy

Making it in the highly competitive jewelry industry

This story appears in the May 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

Once the latest starlet premieres her newest awards-show gown, knockoffs costing thousands cheaper than the couture original hit your local mall faster than Joan and Melissa Rivers can pan or praise it. Don't think jewelry designers have it any easier. Their staffs are often sworn to secrecy until collections debut. And if their product is the quality version, they have to compete with upstarts selling similar shapes but using cheaper materials.

"I'm sure the people who knock off power beads made a lot more money than we did," says Zoe Metro, 31, the New York City accessories designer who ignited the power bead craze with her Stella Pace Inc. line (reaping sales in the "multimillions" last year). Stars from Ricky Martin to Felicity's Keri Russell donned her bracelets, but copycats using glass and plastic in lieu of the semiprecious stones quickly profited.

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