Bridal Q&A: Harry Brown, Chisholm Hunter

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Retail boss on growing your own diamonds and making multichannel work.

The February 2013 issue of Professional Jeweller was dedicated to the wedding jewellery market and the emerging trends and market evolutions that will shape it in 2013. Here Harry Brown, director of multiple jeweller Chisholm Hunter, tells us about the group’s Grow Your Own Diamond scheme, the importance of a transparent supply chain and keeping up to speed online.

 

Professional Jeweller: What has Chisholm Hunter found to be the main changes to the wedding market over the past year?
Harry Brown: There has been an increasing demand for bespoke jewellery as couples look to personalise their rings. Also, more grooms are opting to wear a ring than ever before.

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PJ: Have you found your wedding shoppers to be price conscious?
HB: Yes, all our customers are more aware of price. However, that’s not to say that they are necessarily choosing cheaper alternatives, but rather they are undertaking their own research before making a final purchase decision. Wedding shoppers are more knowledgeable when they come into a store now. As a result we are constantly updating and enhancing our online content and engaging with customers directly to ensure they are presented with as wide a choice as possible of competitively priced, quality products.

PJ: You mention that shoppers researching wedding rings online, but are they buying through Chisholm Hunter’s website?
HB: Customers are looking online to find out what they like but will, in most cases, still come in store to purchase. Customers still want to view the product, understand the different cut and shape of a diamond, and arrange sizing.

PJ: What is the most popular engagement ring stone at Chisholm Hunter?
HB: Diamonds remain the most popular choice of stone and both the solitaire and round brilliant cut styles in particular.

PJ: And most popular metal of the moment?
HB: Platinum.

PJ: How is palladium performing in your stores?
HB: It is doing better than expected for us with this being a more popular metal for men. We believe there is potential in this area.

PJ: Are diamond-set wedding bands popular?
HB: They are going up in popularity for men but it is more dominant amongst women. We’re finding that women don’t always want to wear their engagement ring every day but still want a bit of sparkle from their wedding band. Diamonds, in general, have become more popular amongst men.

PJ: What is your most important customer demographic?
HB: There is a growth amongst male buyers, which I believe is because of the internet. Again, they are more comfortable gaining knowledge online so that when they visit a store they have a much better idea of what they want and don’t feel intimidated about asking questions.

PJ: Are ethical origins of jewellery important?
HB: Yes, very important to our customers, and to us. We continually check with our suppliers to ensure that all our products are ethically sourced. Again, people are more aware of production techniques and expect fairness within this entire process, perhaps even more so with luxury items.

PJ: How is Chisholm Hunter marketing its wedding and engagement rings to consumers?
HB: We just produced a standalone bridal magazine, which has been well received, and are increasing and enhancing our bridal content online to provide as much useful information to customers as possible. Women are still the main influencers in the purchase decision, however we strive to appeal to as wide a market as possible because society in general and the very nature of the family unit has changed. Also, we work hard to nurture our relationships with customers to ensure they remain long-term customers. For example, we offer a Grow Your Own Diamond service enabling people to add to their diamonds as their life changes and they prosper.

PJ: Will 2013’s wedding shoppers be flashy?
HB: I believe shoppers will continue to demonstrate the same values as last year. They will be smarter at shopping and look for best value in all their purchasing decisions.

 

 

 

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