Diamondere: How to update a legacy brand (Hint: technology helps)

By Richard Nieva , written on February 14, 2013

From The News Desk

The custom jewelry ecommerce site Diamondere boasts its speed. But, it’s about 6 p.m. on Valentine’s Day…so if you still don’t have a gift for your significant other, you’re probably out of luck. The company can’t help you there. They’re not that fast.

On the front end, the site looks like your garden-variety jewelry site – almost less impressive, even; the web design isn’t as modern as it could be. Still, Diamondere is a jewelry company that is doing some interesting digital things for a legacy brand. And talk about a legacy brand: The company started over 120 years ago when the Godha family began designing jewelry for the royals of India. The company slowly expanded to add Indian dignitaries and celebrities as clients, and in the 70s began exporting its jewelry.

Enter Anish and Varun Godha, two cousins and heirs to the family business, who, three months ago, started the ecommerce site. They are credited as cofounders of the new Web operation. Both engineering degree holders, the two have brought a decidedly techy approach to the company, doubling down on 3-D printing and computer aided design (CAD).

3-D printing has just made its primetime debut, but is actually not new for jewelry companies. Manufacturers have been using the technique for a decade. But Diamondere is in a unique position to use it differently from the company’s competitors, says Anish. Because the company owns both the manufacturing side (from the family’s old school roots) of the process and the retail side (the ecommerce site), the company can use 3-D printing in a nimbler way than other companies. Anish also says cutting out the middle men allows them to price things at times 70 percent lower than competitors.

For example, when a customer orders a piece of jewelry -- say, a ring – he custom designs it on the site. He picks the specifications: the band, the inscription, the way the diamond is set. A 3-D printer then builds a model stamped out of a piece of wax. If a customer wants to make modifications, each change requires a new 3-D model, which can be made easily by changing the image on the computer. But because the ecommerce arm is linked to the design division, Diamondere can make the changes instantaneously instead of waiting on an outside company. He hired on a CAD team when he started the ecommerce site, says Anish.

He says this allows the company to ship items within 10 days, while someone like Macy’s would take three to four weeks with modifications.

Not everything about the digital operation is seamless. The company makes 3-D animated videos to show what the jewelry would look like on a person. It’s not as helpful as seeing an actual model wearing the actual jewelry, and it’s not as clever or lightweight as Warby Parker’s method. The company’s closest competitor Gemvara does have live videos. They are ridiculously cheesy, but they do well to show the rings on human hands.

Diamondere’s positioning may be more the result of luck of the draw (after all, not all entrepreneurs are born into prestigious diamond manufacturing families) than raw innovation, but the company is smart to capitalize on the leg up. Controlling the whole process has been a winning strategy for the most successful companies. Apple credits ownership of every element -- from hardware to software to online retail to physical retail – as the reason it’s been able to create such a good product and customer experience. But for a company in an industry that’s historically un-tech savvy, adding a little bit of it helps.