Today markets have been completely and forever changed.
One thing, however, stays the same. Clients appreciate service done right. Creativity, individuality, and originality. In my 25 years as a jewelry designer and master-goldsmith, I have worked with many couples, and there was always an amazing Love Story to be told with every engagement ring, I have ever made. And with every Love Story, came the request for something unique".
The big change - At the American Gem Society's educational and networking conference in 2016, it was reported that the largest segment of engagement ring buyers (about 42%), purchased their jewelry pieces from independent jewelers. Even giants like DeBeers acknowledge losses in their profits since 2014, due to booming development of the e-commerce jewelry business. The retail industry is undergoing a dramatic shift: E-commerce is capturing a larger share of sales than ever before, for few reasons – competitive pricing, availability, flexibility and variety, convenience, privacy, personalization.
The convenience - of browsing the worlds' gallery of jewels from your personal computer, or a smartphone, gathering all the information you will need to make an informed purchase, has become a main-street approach to online engagement ring shopping. Customers are informed, better than ever, on Global Diamond pricing and design trends. In the era of global information mash, where we are over-exposed to images and information, finding "The Perfect" ring has become a mouse and keypad treasure hunt. Then there are the smart gadgets. Apps as "Drop a Hint", design to help you politely guide your significant other to your dream ring/design/gift etc.
Here comes Global Accessibility - Online Jewelry Stores around the world are one click away, and you can browse the Worlds life inventory of diamonds at your convenience ►
The Diamond Inventory of the World is one click away!
You can choose to purchase your stone from the other end of the world, if that makes more financial sense to you, and have it set in a design of your choice, with a jeweler of your choice. Just think about the possibilities!
You are no longer bound to your geographical location! No more pressure from the local jeweler, who is trying desperately to “move his goods”. It is really, between you and the stone/ring. With online competitive pricing and transparency, you can often get a better price than what's available at the local jewelry stores.
Practicality and Piece of Mind - Many online jewelry boutiques offer complimentary shipping with all their purchases, so really it makes no difference in the price ticket for you if your dream engagement ring comes from Paris or you walk into the store next door. Next big plus, that wins customers over to the online jewelry experience is the return policies they have adopted. Policies that are designed to put the customer at ease when purchasing "long distance". Usually, the return policies will provide for times that will vary from 30 to a 100 days, which gives you plenty of time to decide, if this indeed is the ring of your/her dreams.
" - What happens IF?” - She says “NO”?
Can I walk into the store and just return the ring for a full refund? – No, you can’t! I can't think of any brick and mortar stores that do that unless you are willing to upgrade your stone to match their upgrade policy. In many cases, upgrade policies, require for you to upgrade to a stone 50% or greater value of what you already have. Now, that's not really a return policy, now, is it? Neither small independent jewelers to big brand names will accept returns for full refund. At best they will offer you to buy the ring back. And guess what, the price you paid, won’t match the price they will offer, even if you had the ring for less than 24 hours. Got to love those 30-day returns from online jewelry stores, hm …
" - What happens IF?” - SURPRISE!
You wanted to surprise her and the ring was purchased without consulting with her BFF or your future mother/sister-in-law?! (Seriously, what were you thinking?!) Haven't you seen Sex and The City?! Before looking into a diamond/design, sit with her closest friend or family member, and ask questions! Many questions! If she is into step cuts and has always dreamed of one, no matter how pretty the round diamond you purchased is - she still will love step cuts, better! You get the point ... Before buying a ring, either way, local jeweler or online store - ask, ask, ask about their return, redesign policies.
Personalization - Last, but not least - Long live Individuality! Finding your unique ring in the world of cookie-cutters and pre-designed trends can be a real nightmare. I have dedicated many years predicting BRIDAL market trends; I have created bridal lines for "the year after" and then the next; I have worked in big designer factories with big designer names, and brands, where everything is pre-determined and manufactured based on dry data. I did not like it. I was missing the link where you engage with the customer and design and craft a ring around their unique personalities.
I truly believe this is the way our craft was meant to be!
I have rarely met a bride-to-be, or a couple, that walks in the store and buys engagement ring "off-the-shelf". They always like to input their personal touch into the design. It’s a seldom event, where you can pull her exact "dream ring" out of your showcase. That being said, at Bashert Jewelry all pieces are made to order and crafted around specific stones, upon specific requests. This is how our online jewelry studio can afford to maintain competitive prices while keeping current with the newest trends and demands.
One thing in today's markets is clear – Customers still want and deserve to receive "the royal treatment"! However, that does not necessarily mean - one has to walk into a local store and endure the pushy attempts of the salesperson to settle for a ring that is “NOT REALLY YOU”. Not Anymore!