Fine jewellery sales are booming online with new players vying for the best exclusives to win over increasingly confident shoppers.
Rachael Taylor asks some of luxury e-tail’s biggest players who is buying jewellery online and just how much are they spending?
THE LUXURY E-TAIL GIANT
Sophie Quy, fine jewellery buyer, Net-a-Porter
“Fine jewellery has grown substantially every season since its launch on Net-a- Porter in 2012. We’ve really focused on the brand mix and edit and have seen over 100% growth versus last year. There is a real buzz surrounding the category.
“We have a wide range of products and price points, from Delfina Delettrez pearl and lip earrings at £325, to a Fred Leighton vintage diamond necklace for £38,500. As with all products on site, each piece is photographed by our in-house studio teams so that we can be sure to offer consistently detailed shots, with zoom functions and accurate measurements. We style items on a model with ready-to-wear suggestions and give a good background on each designer.
“Our customers are embracing the idea of shopping for fine jewellery online and this is something we anticipate will only grow. We’ve seen a huge increase in customers shopping fine jewellery from their mobile and tablet devices. “
In April Net-a-Porter teamed with Chanel for its first ever fine jewellery e-commerce partnership, for its Coco Crush collection. It was an instant sell out – a testament to our customers’ trust in purchasing fine jewellery online with us.”
THE ANTIQUES MARKETPLACE
Cristina Miller, senior vice-president of dealer relations, 1stdibs
“Jewellery is one of the fastest-growing categories on our site, with sales having increased 110% from 2014 to 2015. This year we project that jewellery will represent 18% of total online sales. We see tremendous potential for it.
“We are the only destination – online or off – with such a wide range of fine jewellery; everything from a £6 million fancy blue diamond to signed pieces by the biggest names in the industry. We also offer historical styles like rare Etruscan pieces or memento mori jewels.
“75% of our users are 35 or older, and 35% of traffic comes from outside the US. The average distance between a buyer and seller on 1stdibs is more than 2,000 miles, indicating our customers are global citizens who appreciate the convenience of purchasing from anywhere, at any time.”
THE BOND STREET BRAND
James Amos, director, Boodles
“Online is an enormous part of Boodles; it benefits the company as a whole. A huge number of customers use the website as a research tool prior to shopping – it is always the first port of call. A good website emphasises any brand’s credibility.
“You would expect the decision-making process would be slow for buying fine jewellery online, but surprisingly, this is not always the case. Online customers want instant results, and quite often if a product is not available on time, the sale will be lost. This doesn’t happen so often on the shop floor as sales teams can explain to customers face to face why they might have to wait.
“The online customer demographic is the same as in the showrooms, although possibly slightly younger. Generally, customers are wealthy and between the ages of 35 and 55. Interestingly, three quarters of our website users are female but three quarters of our purchases are male. The majority of enquiries are from women too, but it’s the enquiries from men that are more likely to lead to sales.”
THE GLOBAL FASHION BOUTIQUE HUB
Candice Fragis, buying and merchandising director, Farfetch
“Jewellery has become an increasingly important and ever-expanding category for us and the percentage of total sales continues to grow.
“Fashion jewellery is a big seller. Our Versace collection has been very popular for both men and women this season. Our fine jewellery category is also growing considerably as we extend the offering within the category.
“Fine jewellery can be a lot trickier to photograph in great detail, compared to fashion, due to its sometimes complex structure and stones. We’ve enhanced our photography and editing techniques to better present our existing offer.
“Customers in the US lead the pack in terms of purchases of high-end luxury jewellery. They account for nearly 50% of total jewellery sales.”
THE ONLINE DIAMOND SPECIALIST
Tobias Kormind, managing director, 77 Diamonds
“Contrary to expectations, online shopping can afford a much richer experience in a less pressurised environment than in stores. One can almost say it is the antithesis to selling. The experience becomes less about how convincing the sales person is and instead how well the website functions, how realistically the products are displayed, how effcient and informative the virtual services such as live chat are. Even the richness of the social media and activity circling the brand becomes part of the experience.
“We hired a renowned creative director from the luxury fashion sector at great cost to completely reinvent our packaging and make it a luxury experience.
“We have also invested in our Mayfair showroom to make sure the brand is truly multichannel. This is just as important for the collection of an order as it is for recipient of the gift if, for example, they bring it back to us for a resize or adjustment.
“We recently broke our own record and sold two items over £100,000 in one month. The smaller was a completely virtual purchase with some conversations over the phone. The larger was just under £600,000, although it involved the client flying in to view before the final confirmation.”