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The diamond stores Jared—the higher market tier of the Signet Group of jewelry brands—is making a case for lab-grown diamonds, or lab-created diamonds as they prefer to call it. To emphasize the store’s fast-growing category, the brand produced its latest wedding jewelry collaboration with Say Yes to the Dress star and exclusive Kleinfeld’s bridal designer Pnina Tornai. The jeweler hosted a brunch at The Palm House at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in a nod to a similar way a seed becomes a plant, or in this case, a natural composition becomes a manufactured diamond.
President of Jared and Jewelry Services, Bill Brace, and Merchandising Director Laura Brown were on hand to share how the diamonds are quickly becoming a sought-after product category for the nationwide jewelry store. According to Brown, clients who can’t afford a 1-carat natural mined diamond can buy a 1 ½ or 2-carat lab-created diamond, often offering better clarity.
“It’s growing beyond just people becoming more conscious about sustainability and environmental reasons. It’s the ability to have a bigger look. The category is multiplying in our business,” said Brown declining to offer concrete stats of the category, which debuted just two years ago.
Tornai, who deals with her fair share of brides via Say Yes to the Dress and Kleinfeld’s, backed it up. “Younger people say they don’t settle for a stone less than 3 carats. They want a bigger stone, and LCD diamonds are the answer,” she said. The Pnina Tornai ONE
Brace confirmed that Jared doesn’t reveal the ratio of LCD to actual diamonds that the retailer carries but affirms its growth. “I will tell you it’s become a quite sizable and healthy percentage of our business and developed very quickly in the last two years,” he said. He maintains that Jared’s position is they love diamonds, period, regardless of their origin. The need was driven by customer demand.
“We tend to see LCD diamonds skew to younger customers under 35, but not exclusively. People are looking for bigger, bolder styles, and on average, LCD diamonds are more significant than the mined diamonds,” he continued. “It’s a noticeable value difference.”
To compare similar diamonds, one mined and one lab-created price can be significantly lower and brillance significantly higher. For example, a color I and clarity 11 rated 2 1/4 carat mined diamond retails for $12,999.99 while a lab-created color F and clarity VS2 2 1/5 carat diamond sells for $9999.99.
Jared is one of the merchants and vendors benefitting from the record-breaking weddings planned this year. There was an uptick in engagements during the pandemic, which brace says is primarily sustained.
“We are optimistic about the upcoming wedding season because weddings create more weddings,” he said, noting wedding parties and guests are also looking for jewelry to wear to a wedding.
“Self-gifting has been up to across the board, as was bridal, but our fashion jewelry saw the biggest gains YOY the past two years,” he said, noting romantics gifting to mark milestones was also steady.
Men are part of the trend as well. While timepieces are traditionally the male self-purchase market, the last one and a ½ years have seen the return and rise of gold jewelry for men; necklaces, rings, and earrings. “It’s influenced by sports players who are coming on the field all decked out; some baseball players even wearing pearls as a statement of individuality. Brace said the brand created a special ‘trophy’ letter C piece for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite more than doubling their online business in 2020, online accounts for just 20 percent of Jared’s business. Physical stores remain crucial to Jared, with an emphasis on experience.
“People shop with a combo online and in-store. They go online to scout and research what they want and come to the store educated with this knowledge, such as the 4 C’s. But they want to have a human experience to get advice and instill trust.,” he continued.
Online guests can see a gemstone with 40 percent magnification. In-store, Brace said guests could freely explore jewelry styles at the gathering table, where they can try facsimiles of the jewelry styles. Also, in-store is access to the Foundry, a computer with jewelry design software that guests can use to reimagine and design a custom piece. “Maybe they want to repurpose Grandma’s ring; we can melt the gold and use the stone to create a new piece. We provide these bespoke experiences for people to get whatever they want,” assured Brace.
After closing some underperforming stores, Brace confirmed that Jared would be opening several new stores across the US. In addition to its off-mall locations, Jared has opened a new small, bridal-focused store format combining fine jewelry with technology in Tyson’s Corner, VA and in Salt Lake City, UT with plans to open a third location in Las Vegas, NV.