A YORK business has secured a major European first with an unusual range of Japanese jewellery.

The Japanese Shop, in York's Coppergate Walk, has struck a deal with a firm in Tokyo to become the first business to sell a new range of health-boosting jewellery to the European market. The bracelets and necklaces, which aim to promote an improved sense of well-being, represent an important coup for the shop's owners, husband-and-wife team, Jez and Hiromi Willard.

Designed by Dr Keiji Kato, the products help maintain a balance between the negative and positive ions in the body. The colourful jewellery, which is sold under the brand name Bio Ion, won a prestigious award at the International Jewellers Trade Fair in Tokyo last year.

The bracelets and necklaces are designed to reduce problems including a stiff neck, painful joints, poor blood circulation and insomnia.

They also claim to help the wearer maintain their concentration and sense of calm.

Jez and Hiromi, who also have a shop in Harrogate's Parliament Street, said they were delighted by the new agreement, which was secured after a trip to Japan.

Jez said: "We're delighted to have agreed a contract to sell this groundbreaking range of jewellery at our shops in both York and Harrogate, as well as making it available through our comprehensive website, www.thejapaneseshop.co.uk. Our visit to the supplier Bio Ion was fascinating.

"They sat me on a chair in front of a heat-sensing scanner and created an image of my body heat. They then placed the Bio Ion necklace around my neck and, over a period of time, showed me the changing pattern of my body heat. It was amazing and I now wear one all the time."

The deal is yet another success for the firm, which was a finalist in last year's Evening Press Business of the Year.

Updated: 11:36 Tuesday, June 15, 2004