The Retail Apocalypse: Reality or Fake News?

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Ever since the catastrophic take-off of online e-commerce sites (ahem.. Amazon), brick and mortar stores have been shaking in their blue jeans. Macys, BCBG, and Tommy Hilfiger to name a few have each filed for bankruptcy since 2018, and that’s just the start of it. Even with what seems to be a doom and gloom mentality for most B&M retailers, a major question still remains... how does this shift in purchasing affect retailers where transactions are largely based on trust?

Take for example the jewelry industry, or more specifically, engagement ring jewelers. Often times buying an engagement ring is a one time purchases and more importantly, the first large purchase for a young couple. There is a lot to be educated on when it comes to a diamond purchase (read about the 4 C’s), and a blind purchase without physically touching or seeing the product often times doesn’t work for most couples. You’re not buying a robotic vacuum cleaner or a t-shirt after all. 

Of course you have online sites such as Blue Nile that claim to be a “A modern approach to celebrating life’s most cherished traditions”, but does this so called modern approach work when it comes to buying something so personal, and more so, is the jewelry industry as a whole really hurting due to the e-commerce boom? 

An article from National Jewelers does a great job comparing and contrasting certain statistics around if all brick and mortar stores should be worried. According to the article:

“Research group IHL said more stores had opened than closed this year, counting 8,428 closures and 11,393 openings. U.S. retail sales are on the rise. The retail landscape is changing, but sales are still growing. U.S. retail sales are up 3 percent year-over-year, totaling $82.7 billion through June 2019, according to IHL’s study. The closures are concentrated in the department store and specialty retail segments, said IHL. Within those two segments, the closures have been driven by a handful of companies.

The study found that e-commerce currently represents 19 percent of all retail sales with 10 percent of those sales coming from e-tailers. The remaining 9 percent stems from traditional retailers. Online sales are expected to account for 25 percent of retail by 2021, with physical stores involved in 81 percent of all retail fulfillment. In general, we see company-specific issues (too much debt, over- expansion, poor models) in the companies that are closing stores or are going bankrupt, not a systemic overall retail issue.

This article quickly debunks the myth that retail as a whole will struggle without an online presence and clarifies that it has more to do with a companies business model than actually being solely an e-comm brand.  

Great. But what about the jewelry industry as a whole? Is there an advantage to buying online? I mean, as we all know, shopping online is synonymous with finding the best deal around...right? Actually wrong. Check out the following stats around diamond sales as a while and why buying a diamond online may end up costing you more. 

According to the latest Bain & Company report:

“The global demand for rough diamonds is projected to grow at approximately one to four percent per year through 2030, while supply is projected to grow at a far slower pace, somewhere between zero and one percent. An improved economy and increases in disposable income are driving diamond consumption in America, and China’s long-term demand for diamonds is expected to increase as well. India’s growing middle class represents an additional area for consumer growth, with a rapidly growing demand for diamond bridal jewelry.”

More so, purchasing a diamond online means you’re not able to work with an experienced jeweler to come up with a diamond ring, (setting and all), that fits within your budget. It’s a common misconception that shopping online will get you a better deal. An experienced jeweler can help you prioritize what is most important to you and your significant other, (say diamond size perhaps), and find you the best options given your criteria and budget.

But how will you know that you’re getting a quality product? Well, a diamond should be inspected top to bottom with a magnifying glass so you have a clear understanding of what you’re actually purchasing. An online website has no pressure to offer you a top quality diamond at a reasonable price since you’re not meeting them face to face after all...which brings us to our next point.

Did you know that online diamond stores do not offer any quality guarantee? If something is in fact wrong with the diamond you purchased, (say an imperfection you weren’t expecting, or the color is off), it would result in you overpaying for a diamond you thought was a great deal. The truth is there is a lot to consider outside of the 4Cs that someone who isn’t in the diamond profession would have no way of knowing.

Lastly, buying a diamond online means making one of the biggest financial purchases of your life completely blind. As you might imagine, it takes years to understand and learn how to evaluate a diamond, which is why buying online can be so tricky and unforgiving. Sure you can try to pawn off a faulty diamond, but you will end up losing hundreds, if not thousands in the process. Do yourself a favor and go with a jeweler that prides themselves on the customer service they offer, and has many repeat customers. 

So to wrap this all up in a shiny box, the brick and mortar industry isn’t going anywhere so long as the store has a healthy business model. Second, the brick and mortar jewelry industry is thriving due to how most individuals like to make these big life purchases- educated and with a trustworthy jeweler. Lastly, buying a diamond online could end up costing you more money in the end. What are your thoughts on all of this? We’d love to hear them!  Leave us a comment below or book a no-stress appointment.

~ LB

2019 Celebrity Engagement Ring Trends

From JLo to Katy Perry, and Jennifer Lawrence to Hailey Bieber, it seems that this year’s 2019 celebrity rings are all the rage. And with one quick glance it’s easy to tell why...

Let’s start with the ring that rocked internet, or should we say the rock that broke it.

 

EMERALD CUT

 

 

Jennifer Lopez dropped jaws showing off this massive emerald cut number just a couple weeks ago. Measuring between 10 to 15 carats, a diamond like this is worth roughly $1.5- $3 million, but it all depends on the 4 C’s.

 

 

Speaking of Emerald cuts, Jennifer Lawrence dazzles in this beautiful number. Her ring has a refined elegance that fits her hand beautifully. We image it being around 1.75 to 2 carats and costing anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000.

 

If Emerald diamonds are speaking to you, check out our Instagram page here, and get the look.

 

 

ART DECO

 

This art deco inspired engagement ring has Katy Perry’s name all over it. The flower shaped ring top is not only a nod to her beau’s last name, it’s the perfect compliment to her beautiful personality. This look is made with over 4 carats worth of diamonds, including a stunning pink center diamond.

 

Looking for something a little different? Check out our selection here.

 

 



TIMELESS

 

Cushion Cut

Katherine Schwarzenegger's is no stranger to the spotlight due to her famous parents, and this stunning ring won’t be keeping her out of it anytime soon! We love the classic cushion cut, with a delicate diamond halo to complete the look.

 

 

Check out some of our favorite cushion cuts here.

 

 

Oval Cut

 

 

Talk about “Loving Yourself”, Justin Bieber’s now wife, Hailey Bieber must be feeling pretty good about herself with that incredible diamond around her finger. Oval cuts are still ranking high on this year’s trend list and with a cut like that, we totally get why.

 

Check out a few of our oval favorites here.

 

 

Do you have a favorite of the bunch? Leave us a comment below and let us know! As always, you can make an appointment here.

 

~ LB

The True Value of a Man-Made “Diamond”

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History has a funny way of repeating itself, and the man-made diamond industry is no exception. If you’re familiar with the simple rules of supply and demand, then you understand that as supply goes up, demand goes down. Applying this same rule to man-made diamonds, you can quickly  understand why it will be hard for them to maintain their long term value.

From the Experts

But don’t just take our word for it, on Dec. 21, 2018, a Reuters report quoted analyst Paul Zimnisky as saying lab diamond prices had softened considerably. Another report from Bain & Co. stated the “Production of lab-grown diamonds has risen dramatically and will continue to do so, though their prices will likely continue to fall.”

This report mentions that “It costs $300–$500 per ct. to produce a CVD lab-grown diamond, compared with $4,000 per ct. in 2008, and calculates that the retail price of gem-quality lab-grown diamonds has fallen by about half in the past two years, while wholesale prices have fallen threefold. It forecasts that trend will continue as efficiencies increase, new competitors enter the market, and the product gets “commoditized.”

As the manufacturing technology for these lab-made diamonds improves, the stones’ prices will decrease. One jeweler remembers when cubic zirconia was $800 per ct. Created gems are, like created diamonds, chemically the same as their mined counterparts. But their values are very different.  Unlike the earth, which has a limited supply of diamonds, factories can mass-produce these stones, and that will drive prices down in the long run. (JCK)

Held to the Same Standards

If these man-man diamond resellers are selling their goods as diamonds, or, put another way, if man-made diamonds we’re true diamonds, then they should: (JCK)

  • Be under the Patriot Act: Under the Patriot Act, dealers who sell more than $50,000 in precious stones, gems, and jewelry are required to maintain an anti–money laundering (AML) program and conduct appropriate due diligence, including fully identifying business partners and monitoring transactions.
  • Disclose information about the specific location: where the diamonds are produced
  • Disclose the treatment that was required:It’s no secret that an overwhelming majority of lab-grown diamonds are treated by either electron irradiation or high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT). (UPDATE: Some commenters disagree with the phrase “overwhelming majority.”)
  • Disclose whether some stones in a piece are natural: Some consumers clearly prefer man-made gems. They shouldn’t buy mined diamonds believing they are lab-grown, and vice versa.

But What About the Environment?

There is a common misconception that lab made diamonds are more eco-friendly. You see in order for a lab made diamonds to be created, it actually involves more chemicals and electricity consumption and is worse for the environment than those that are naturally occurring. Not to mention unregulated laborers. This topic rarely touches on the other side- the communities in Africa that heavily rely on the diamond business for their wellbeing - it is often their family business. “Tens of millions of people rely on the diamond industry for income, among them the poorest people on earth trying to make an honest living. There are an estimated 1.5 million artisanal miners digging for diamonds in Africa, and they support another 7 million people with their earnings. Advocating synthetics as an ethical substitute for natural diamonds threatens the livelihood of those diggers.” (Rapaport)

Ethically Sourced Only

At La Bijouterie, we never work with conflict diamonds. We strictly work with ethically sourced GIA certified diamonds, and you will receive a GIA certificate and appraisal with your jewel. We’ve worked in the diamond wholesale business for generations and only work with trusted and ethical sources.

If you are against buying diamonds, or perhaps a diamond is simply not in your repertoire of jewelry taste, then you may enjoy looking at a sapphire, emerald, ruby, or other colored diamond gems. We are happy to walk you through our selection of precious stones to help you find the one that speaks to you.

Closing Thoughts

At La Bijouterie, it has always been our primary goal to help customers start their journey to marriage with a wise diamond purchase- creating a tangible symbol of their love,  and a ring that makes sense financially. After generations in the diamond business, one thing is certain. If we cared more about our profit margins than our customers and our integrity, we would sell man-made diamonds, as the sell price to actual cost ratio is much greater than the profit made on the sale of a diamond. But this is not what our company values or what we’ve based our business model on, especially since we know a man-made diamond does not hold its value. As your personal jeweler, this is not a financial decision we would advise upon. Let it be known that we are not against man-made diamonds, but instead, are against their value, (or lack thereof). Read more about this topic.

Only a natural diamond has the rarity that supports its economic and emotional value. Consumers use diamonds as a symbol of love for that very reason. We all want to feel special, unique and rare, especially in our relationships, and a diamond communicates that message. (Rapaport)

~ LB

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