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Gem Dandy Making it in the highly competitive jewelry industry

By Michelle Prather

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Once the latest starlet premieres her newest awards-show gown,knockoffs costing thousands cheaper than the couture original hityour local mall faster than Joan and Melissa Rivers can pan orpraise 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 competewith upstarts selling similar shapes but using cheapermaterials.

"I'm sure the people who knock off power beads made alot more money than we did," says Zoe Metro, 31, the New YorkCity accessories designer who ignited the power bead craze with herStella Pace Inc. line (reaping sales in the"multimillions" last year). Stars from Ricky Martin toFelicity's Keri Russell donned her bracelets, but copycatsusing glass and plastic in lieu of the semiprecious stones quicklyprofited.

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