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A Gem Pops Up in Hazelton Lanes

Tru-Bijoux, Hazelton Lanes, 55 Avenue Rd.

Intimidation factor: Minimal. The shop is deliciously decadent; I feel like a magpie bingeing on a mountain of bright, shiny things.

Number of salespeople on floor: Two, including owner Trudelle Laker.

Response time: Immediate. Laker even offers to take my coat so I can browse unencumbered.

Vibe: Vintage costume jewelry collector Carole Tanenbaum meets the crown jewels.

Price range: From $45 for earrings to $1,500 for a black diamond bracelet.

Rating: Four supersized vintage rhinestone hoop earrings out of four.

The ground floor on Hazelton Lanes is pretty much a retail wasteland these days with even Brown Shoes vacating the premises. Sure, there is still TNT, but little else is happening except for shoppers snacking on goodies from Whole Foods and students wired into the free Wi-Fi in the courtyard area. But there is a new gem in the mall: jewelry pop-up Tru-Bijoux open until Jan. 3 in the space previously occupied by Fabrice.

Owner Trudelle Laker has been in the bijoux biz for 30 years, working from her Toronto studio. Her designs are one-of-a-kind and not nearly as spendy as Fabrice's stock. She has a Re-Stated line of moulded oldies where she takes moulds from such iconic '80s costume jewelry brands as Trifari, Sarah Coventry and Carolina Herrera and repurposes them with objects such as vintage jewels and bracelets she has ingeniously flattened to add as dangling bits on necklaces. The effect is very Dries Van Noten.

For purists, she stocks the Nina Ricci line and gold pendants on black leather cord ($125) that reference Italian jewelry designer Elsa Peretti and jewelry designer and sculptor Robert Lee Morris.

I am shopping for Christmas gifts but am gifting myself with a pair of edgy, rock-chic plated metal and leather bracelets from Paris that fasten with a metal horn. At $85, they are ideal stocking stuffers.

I also lust after dusky pink Lucite bangles originally made in 1988 for Lauren Hutton for an ad campaign at Hudson's Bay. They are available as singles, doubles or triples.

Brooches make great gifts and Laker has them in the $45 to $150 range in whimsical permutations of froggies, unicorns, salamanders and panthers that won't make you think of the staid pins favoured by former U.N. Ambassador Madeleine Albright.

Scarves are no-brainers and she has a great selection, including $395 beaded beauties from British designer Megan Park and her own line of handmade silk and velvet scarves ($195) that are Boho with exaggerated fringe. She also carries a smattering of vintage beaded and/or feathered bags.

There is an impressive selection of clip-on earrings. How often do you find clip-ons that aren't ho hum? I heart a spectacular pair of chunky orange resin clip-ons in the shape of hearts.

Her most popular line is the resin "La Link," which mimics Bakelite without its hefty price tag. The pieces are available in tortoiseshell, black and mahogany resin, which she imports from Italy in sheets and casts into interlocking links that look Deco. I am smitten with a necklace in turquoise and ivory resin, which would be spectacular with winter whites.

One awesome display amasses so many rhinestone pieces; it feels like I've infiltrated the Queen Mother's jewel vaults. But the gypsy in me covets a fantastic necklace of cascading vintage coins. All I need is an LBD and I am good to go out.

Laker never wears any bling herself except for a keepsake ring from her father, who was also a jeweller.

"When I wear diamonds, everyone thinks they are rhinestones because that is what I do," she shrugs.

A Gem Pops Up in Hazelton Lanes 1

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