`Jurassic Park' Inspires New Interest In Amber

Until recently, customers often peered at the jewelry with the warm, translucent, golden-brown stones in Jodi Lantz' display cases and asked if it was plastic. But since the movie "Jurassic Park" hit town, they all seem to know what it is - amber.

In the movie thriller, genetic scientists mine amber, which is fossilized tree resin, looking for preserved prehistoric bugs. Naturally they find some, extract DNA, and through some fancy genetic engineering start cloning dinosaurs and creating mayhem.

For jewelry stores, "Jurassic Park" has indeed meant new life for a stone that has often been considered a poor cousin to flashier semi-precious stones such as garnets. Lantz, whose First Avenue jewelry shop is called Diamond Lil's, says people are especially interested in amber brooches and pendants containing bugs.

Amber is a bargain compared to many semi-precious stones. A bug-less, amber brooch might cost about $89 at Diamond Lil's; with an insect it would be about $140.

Though the best-quality amber is from the Baltic, Dominican Republic amber contains more insects.

A juried show of jewelry

Speaking of jewelry, fans of contemporary art jewelry should not miss the show that starts today at Facere, a shop in City Centre in downtown Seattle. Owner Karen Lorene annually mounts a juried show that draws entries from all over the country. Some 200 artists submitted work this year. Jurors were Diane Douglas, chief curator at Bellevue Art Museum, Philip Monroe, owner of Philip Monroe Jeweler, and Lorene. Some 48 pieces by about 30 artists were selected.

Lorene says pieces in the show range stylistically from the whimsical to the avant-garde. Prices range from $85 to $3,000. The show will be on through Aug. 18. A reception and opening will be held today from 5 to 8 p.m.

New stores coming to Bellevue Square

Bellevue Square held a press luncheon last week to show off its new FAO Schwarz toy store. More interesting to fashion followers, however, was news about some of the other stores set to open this year.

Ann Taylor will open a store twice the size of its downtown Seattle shop. Other stores include Eddie Bauer's All Week Long women's wear; Brooks Brothers; Georgiou; Limited Express; Liz Claiborne; and Coach Leather. Ralph Lauren Polo will open in early 1994.

Mall management says talks are being held with designer Nicole Miller (known for her chic after-5 dresses and whimsical men's ties) and catalog retailer J. Crew. Both companies expressed interest in opening shops at the mall, though no deals have been struck.

Robin Updike's Elements of Style column runs every two weeks in the Wednesday Fashion/Scene section.