Post pandemic, is the future of Diamonds and Jewelry Online?

Sotheby's conducts its most successful online jewelry auction, while WFDB to launch cross-bourse online diamond trading platform for members of all bourses.

[Image Courtesy: Purple Tab]

Online retail of jewelry and diamonds is nothing new. Since past few years now, with the rise of E-commerce, online jewelry too has picked up globally. After the debate of Online vs. Brick-and-mortar, many market pundits predicted that the future is Omnichannel and the trends also suggested the same. However, post the Coronavirus pandemic where businesses are not just severely affected but also forced to lockdown, the new normal for diamonds and jewelry seems to be Online.

Since past 4-5 years, online jewelry was gathering steam. In 2016, when the diamond retail sales were predicted to grow by only 2%, on eBay ring market had grown by 58% in the preceding 5 years, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report. The trend was not only limited to women’s jewelry but even online searches for Men’s jewelry surged.

Many new players including BlueNile, Voylla, BlueStone, Jewelmart, Joolz, Carat Lane, Velvet Case etc. entered the industry and were expanding and raising funds.

This also led to retail players venture into online business. Tiffany who used to sell its jewelry online on its own website only, for the first time selected Net-A-Porter as its exclusive ecommerce partner to sell select jewelry designs online. India’s jewelry major Kalyan Jewellers acquired online jewelry retailer Candere to expand its online portfolio and channel.

But as the Omnichannel mantra got accepted, online jewelry businesses including Blue Nile started reverse disruption and opened physical retail stores, mostly terming them as concept stores.

Ritani, a wholesaler earlier, had transformed itself into an online jewelry company with its ‘Click-and-Bricks’ model – a golden midway between the online and brick-and-mortar business models. Moreover, companies like NY-based Diamond Lighthouse now allows diamond consumers to sell their stones online for full current market prices to a group of trusted buyers.

While the near-term future may still remain to be a ‘Click-and-Brick’ business model, the unprecedented virus outbreak forcing everyone to stay indoors and businesses staying shut has resulted in an incline towards the online future. Here are some of the recent developments that indicate the trend.


Sotheby’s conducts its most successful online jewelry auction

Auction house Sotheby’s conducted its best-ever online jewelry sale recently selling 97% of lots from its Jewels Online auction that concluded last Wednesday. The auction realized sales of $739,375 surpassing its highest estimate of $671,600. Bidders from 32 countries participated with average six bidders per lot, 22% of whom were new buyers for Sotheby’s.

Half of the auction’s lots exceeded Sotheby’s highest estimates. The biggest sale was a pair of ruby earrings by Michele Della Valle selling for $25,000, much more than the lot’s estimate of $7,000. Sellers like David Webb, Verdura and even Tiffany & Co. sold lots in the auction witnessing a 100% sell-through rates.

Global Head of Online Jewels at Sotheby’s said “In this unprecedented moment, collectors were determined to compete for beautiful jewels in Wednesday’s sale, which earned our best sell-through rate to date for any online jewelry auction. Bidders — many new to auction — responded to our well-curated offering of signed jewels, including pieces from famed American makers like David Webb, Verdura and Tiffany & Co. that we offered at accessible price points.”

Such online jewelry auctions are though nothing new and in past had met success like the one by Hoover & Strong and Polygon.


WFDB to launch online trading platform

World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) is in the process of creating a cross-bourse trading platform, which will be launched soon. This new platform will be available for use to all members of all diamond bourses worldwide. Every transaction done on this platform will be backed and protected by WFDB’s arbritration system. While this platform gets created, IDI has invited all WFDB members to use its international trading platform.

Ernie Bloom – President, WFDB says ““If there is any silver lining and benefit to Covid-19, it has taught us that we must all come together to promote and facilitate the diamond trade in order for members of every bourse to trade freely with one another and to feel safe while doing so… We all fully understand and empathise with the feelings of concern and frustration that our members have expressed to us with regard to the current crisis and we believe that at this period all the actors in the global diamond industry should act with full responsibility and utmost caution.”


Jewellers are also gravitating online in these times, taking to social media and trying to build an online community.

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