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Apr 15, 2021
The executive, who cofounded Brilliant Earth in San Francisco about 15 years ago with Eric Grossberg, says she’s observed a consumer emphasis on quality and longevity during the pandemic. “People want everyday pieces that they are going to wear. So [for this launch] it was thinking about something classic with a more distinct style to it. We want something that people are going to wear forever but wanted something more unique that has meaning,” she said. Stud and hoop earrings, as well as pendants, have been stand-out categories for Brilliant Earth over the last year. While Brilliant Earth operates nine showrooms for in-person shopping across the U.S., the company’s d-to-c ethos was put to the test this year. Brilliant Earth quickly accelerated pre-existing plans to launch virtual shopping appointments when the pandemic hit. Gerstein declined to provide any sales statistics related to the company’s performance. She did say, however, “I think it was a challenging year in that it was challenging for everyone, having to change and adapt to new practices. But with the pandemic you did see a large increase in e-commerce adoption, which now in jewelry is over 20 percent. That acceleration was beneficial, so overall we are pleased with how 2020 ended.” The company saw a rise in self-purchasing on its website, something Gerstein attributes to the fact that, “with a little extra disposable income, people are more excited to spend. They’ve been cooped up for a long time and are treating themselves. I think [self-purchase] tends to be a little more trend forward, when women purchase for themselves, whereas men tend to go a little more classic.” By selling at the crossroads of the hot debate around diamonds, Brilliant Earth poses a question to shoppers — do they want something mined from the ground following millions of years of chemical evolution, or a man-made product created in a laboratory? While Gerstein would not disclose which sees higher sales on Brilliant Earth, she did say that: “There is definitely continued interest in lab diamonds. I think awareness of that segment is very high but we do see interest in both categories — it just depends on what customers are looking for and it’s our job to be able to have a broad offering to cater to both needs.” Yet the drama around diamonds does continue to ensue. “We try to stay a little bit out of the fray, to be honest, I think a lot of interests are involved,” she said of the landscape. “We really want to be able to cater to what our customers are looking for. Some people like that lab diamonds have no mining association and some really like the history and romance of natural diamonds. I am a big believer that diamonds do a lot of good and we can continue to focus on how to improve lives with artisanally mined diamonds, but I think there is a place for both and talking about the benefits.” Now that vaccines are ramping up, Gerstein has begun observing a growing excitement from consumers — particularly those who are purchasing gifts for themselves as a reward for making it through the pandemic. “I think in the last month we are definitely seeing that with the new stimulus bill there is an increased customer confidence. People are excited to buy pieces that have meaning and they can wear for a long time — hopefully with the reopening, that will continue,” she said. Looking forward, Gerstein sees even more potential to raise brand awareness domestically, particularly through the rollout of new showroom locations. But there is also a growing call from international markets for expansion in countries including Canada, Australia, the U.K., Japan and China. Brilliant Earth currently ships to 70 countries worldwide.