Featured image: Maciej Toporowicz, for Getty Images
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, as the adage goes. But it’s also the wallet’s worst enemy.
These precious stones are worth a pretty penny but are often sold in boutiques at a grossly inflated price tag. That premium is a hefty record of the times the stone has changed hands — from supplier, to wholesalers and to retailer — before it is set in a ring and sold.
That is what local startup LUXIEEhopes to circumvent as the world’s first online diamond marketplace. The solution to this is surprisingly simple: take the middleman out.
While there are online retailers like James Allen and Blue Nile that sell loose diamonds, Luxiee’s co-founder Nicholas Lim explains that these are still middleman operations.
LUXIEE, on the other hand, does not sell stones. Instead, it serves as a direct line to 15 suppliers from Hong Kong, India, Israel and New York that have been thoroughly checked out for reliability and reputation. Potential customers can easily browse through over 100,000 diamonds of every cut, colour, clarity and carat and purchase immediately from these suppliers.
With that, what would have taken years of research just to navigate in the competitive diamond market without getting ripped off has been reduced to a few minutes of clicking and cross-referencing online for a better deal.
According to Lim, the online platform is set to disrupt the traditional money-making route which is already seeing declining sales in recent times. It’s telling in the ever-flourishing engagement ring market which, while still dominated by diamonds, is seeing more people going for precious gem alternatives as they become disgruntled by prices.
“The high prices have contributed to the fall in consumer demand, particularly among the millennial generation, for diamonds,” he says. “Consumers become savvier and have greater access to such information, so it is only a matter of time before the true value of diamonds is uncovered.”
LUXIEE’s founders claim that the price difference is massive — up to 300 percent reduction in diamond prices compared to luxury retailers.
It demands a quick check with more accessible diamond retailers, and we take a gander around the web. On an online retailer, a one-carat round diamond, with very good symmetry, and scores a VVS2 in clarity and E for colour (in normal speak, an almost perfect natural diamond) can be had at $8,700. On LUXIEE, a similar gem from Mumbai-based supplier Star Rays can be had at $7,500. It’s not an impressive one-third, but LUXIEE offers a good option that’s a cool 17.8% cheaper. That’s still something to cheer about.
Because LUXIEE is first and foremost a marketplace, it offers only 14 standard ring settings which are adaptable to any chosen shape and size of the diamond. Those looking for something unique can also request for customisations, which are taken on by ring designers partnered with the platform.
The qualms with online shopping, however, is not being able to verify goods before purchasing. Buying diamonds, no matter how reputable a supplier, is still an iffy issue. LUXIEE claims that suppliers sell diamonds that are GIA-certified and conflict-free. “However, in the packing and logistics process, human error may occur,” Lim says.
As such, all diamonds purchased through the site can only be collected at LUXIEE’s office. Diamonds delivered to Singapore are first authenticated and checked to ensure that purchased specifications are met. Another round of authentication will be carried out with the customer to provide a sense of assurance.
Considering the platform’s just launched today, there are some issues that still need addressing. As of now, there are no actual images and videos of individual diamonds smaller than one-carat to see, only samples. Only white diamonds are available this time, though interested customers can inquire about other coloured versions. Still, we think should keep this on your bookmark list for future diamond buying sprees.