A Celebration of Jewelry and the Business Behind the Beauty
Leibish & Co
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Another Wave of Innovation From Outside the Jewelry Industry with Consumer-Friendly Websites
The jewelry industry has an image problem. Younger consumers find the jewelry store environment intimidating. More importantly, these same consumers, who spend much of their time with digital media, find websites from retailers, designers and manufacturers equally imposing.
Innovation online has largely come from outside the industry, such as website Blue Nile. However, the Blue Nile model with its focus on jewelry and diamonds as a commodity seems to be losing ground as the digital landscape has again dramatically changed with the wide acceptance of social and mobile media.
To address this new reality, two websites (again founded by people outside the industry) have launched that are working to bridge the gap among e-commerce, social media and bricks-and-mortar retail: Adornia and Stone & Strand.
These well-branded projects have a lot in common. They are focused on delivering a quality experience by attempting to build a community of enthusiastic and engaged jewelry buyers. They both are using a curated approach to their business models. The founders of both sites are products of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, these founders also have a wealth of professional and personal experiences that have enhanced the vision of their projects.
Adornia co-founders Becca Aronson and Moran Amir met at Wharton and didn’t wait to leave the business school before starting their own company. Both are scheduled to graduate in May but launched Adornia in September 2012 out of their apartments. They plan to return to New York to set up a permanent home for their business. Aronson was the former Lucky accessories editor and Amir handled retail operations for Catherine Malandrino and Diesel. Their experiences are complementary with Aronson the creative person while Aronson handles much of the business. “She’s Photoshop and I’m PowerPoint,” Amir says.
The website sells affordable fine fashion jewelry at a price range from approximately $75 to $2,300. Their customer is very specific: fashion-forward, professional, urban women from the ages of 25 to 45 who have a strong sense of personal style. This site’s main customers are women who buy their own jewelry (the self-purchasing woman).
Aronson and Amir purchase all of the jewelry themselves. In addition to curating the pieces, they organize them in separate collections with names like “Heavy Metal,” “Deco After Dark” and “Darkest Jungle.” The idea is to make personal jewelry shopping easier for women who know their own style. While the site is geared for women, they say that this presentation also makes it easier for men and friends to purchase gifts. They also discuss fashion trends through their blog, “The United States of Adornia.”
The co-founders take their brand to the people, holding trunk shows from San Francisco to Shanghai, China. One of their plans is to do a cross country bus tour.
Meanwhile, Wharton grad Nadine McCarthy Kahane launched her website, Stone & Strand, April 18. A former strategy consultant, she has traveled extensively for work and pleasure and has lived in Singapore, London and Buenos Aires before settling in New York.
Instead of curating the jewelry collection like Adornia, Kahane is curating a group of jewelry designers. She opened the site with a group of 24 designers. The result is a broad jewelry collection that ranges in material from wood to high-karat gold and in price from $115 to well over $20,000. For now all of the designers reside in the U.S. (although several are from other countries) but Kahane said she will expand to include designers from around the world.
This is a site geared toward a clientele who love the search for original adornment almost as much as they love wearing the pieces. “People want things they can fall in love with,” Kahane says. It’s really nice to be able to tap into that passion.”
On this website, the focus is totally on designers. Their works and their stories are presented front and center. They provide access to designers’ studios through personal meetings and special events.
For Kahane the inspiration to start this site was personal. First, she discussed the difficulties of learning about jewelry on her own (such as style, materials and cost). Then she said she has two friends who are jewelry designers who were having difficulty finding an online home for their work.
“We in business are trained to spot opportunities and we feel jewelry is going through this transformation,” she said. “It’s been so conservative. A lot of the designers don’t sell online or they sell a very small portion of their collection online. We do see things changing quickly. We see people buying off Instagram these days. It’s all about access.”
Another thing both sites share is free shipping to U.S. and customer-friendly return policies. Of course both brands appear on all of the standard social media platforms.
This blog is for those who are passionate about jewelry and watches and want to learn more about the industry. It's a place to find the best new products from all over the world and the latest news about the business of jewelry, watches and luxury. Readers gain a backstage pass to the glamour, fun and difficulties of the industry.
I am a freelance writer and editor who covers the luxury jewelry and watch industry for several publications, including Forbes.com the Financial Times, Hong Kong-based JewelleryNetAsiaand the Italian jewelry magazine, VO+. In addition, I have my own blog covering the jewelry and watch industry, Jewelry News Network.