The emergence of JewelStreet which has, by all accounts, had outstanding success in recent months. It has raised further capital through crowdfunding to add to its initial start-up grant from its local council. It’s an interesting new addition to the retail jewellery scene and one which has got me thinking about the internet’s role in selling jewellery in general.
One of our companies, Gecko is a participant in Jewel Street and whilst sales so far have not been huge, they have been steady and we are hoping they will grow further as the business becomes more established. However JewelStreet’s emergence does throw up a number of questions for the industry at large.
Clearly the higher margins that it is offering to the designers and jewellery companies featured on the site are attractive to them and are I suppose something of a challenge to bricks and mortar retailers, who will traditionally be taking much more of a cut.
That said, no website, however well-designed, can offer the jewellery consumer the personal service and expert knowledge provided by a quality bricks-and-mortar retailer and where higher value purchases are being made I feel these are still much valued and are for me, where high street jewellers will always have the edge over the online-only. They can make buying jewellery, especially wedding jewellery, a truly memorable and romantic occasion, and I defy any computer to provide that!
Jewellery is also an extremely tactile purchase, it doesn’t always photograph well and in my opinion it needs to be seen and touched to be properly appreciated. The satisfying weight of a quality piece is often what clinches the sale.
However there is no doubt that the internet is now an important channel for sales and I welcome it and the added opportunities it brings. I am all for innovation and novel ideas that can drive our industry forward and bring great jewellery – some of which would not be readily available elsewhere – to the widest possible audience. It’s still very early days, but I for one will be watching JewelStreet’s future progress with interest.
Patrick Fuller, chairman of WB The Creative Jewellery Group. This feature first appeared in the May 2014 issue of Jewellery Focus