Inside Gemist’s Unique Model Disrupting Online Jewelry Shopping

While the global fine jewelry market is expected to reach $340 billion by 2025, 18-21% of these sales are expected to be made online. The rise of fine jewelry online shopping is largely due to the change in consumer behavior run by Millennials and Gen Z specifically for engagement rings. But the biggest hurdle the industry faces is actually delivering what the customer wants without them seeing or touching it, resulting in higher than average return rates. gemmist aims to make the process more seamless whether you’re buying an engagement ring or huggie earrings through their design experience and in-house “test box” option.

CEO and Founder of Gemist, Madeline Fraser, came up with the premise of Gemist through her direct frustration at unsuccessfully designing a personalized engagement ring online. “Before starting Gemist, I was looking for my own engagement ring, but wanted something personalized and unique to me. As a digital consumer and founder of a tech start-up, shopping online was my first reflex. It wasn’t until I started shopping that I realized that option really didn’t exist! For me, the combination of a beautiful design experience and the ability to see and feel your In-person design before purchase was necessary to provide consumers with a fun and easy experience. Try-on is becoming a more common experience in many other industries. When I realized this wasn’t happening at all in jewelry, I knew I had to dive in – the opportunity was too big to pass up,” Fraser explained.

Adding fitting to the intersection of technology and custom fine jewelry has been a key differentiator for Gemist. The Gemist customer can design and customize their piece of jewelry online, then Gemist sends them a trial box for them to physically try on their unique design, then they can decide what to buy. “We were the first to spearhead this kind of unique experience with one important factor in mind: making sure the consumer is able to design the pieces they try on,” explained Fraser. “It was very important to me that we give the consumer the power to choose. They can decide which combination of elements best suits their aesthetic. By adding design to the flow, we give the consumer the experience of trying out what they actually want to see, not just what’s available. The combination of design and testing is truly our added value that is not available anywhere else.

Fraser wants to be a major player in shifting the jewelry industry towards digital orientation and personalization coupled with a try-on experience that can help close this gap for the industry. “We know that 85% of modern consumers today expect personalization and 71% want to try before they buy. This is a demographic that has been trained to create articles of their own and are usually presented with the choice of an essay. It’s common in other industries like fashion and eyewear, so it makes perfect sense to incorporate those experiences into jewelry. The jewelry industry as a whole is minimally online and rooted in traditional family jewelers and brick-and-mortar retailers. It was going to take someone with a different perspective and background (in my case, consumer tech) to start moving the industry in a more digital-first direction.

This model reduced their return rate to less than 2% against 30.7% industry national average and they also found a 2.5 times higher average order value when consumers engage in the trial experience. One of Gemist’s greatest successes is helping engaged couples find the perfect ring. 70% of couples today have designed their engagement rings together on some level rather than being a complete surprise.

Frequently, the proposing partner will bring in their partner to help with the design and customization, but then continue the process alone with Gemist so the timing remains a surprise. Another unexpected trend that has evolved since Gemist’s trial is a trial proposal. Learning from its users, Gemist has created “The Proposal Experience” where the proposer orders a Try-On box of three options, proposes with one, and then the couple can make their perfect ring together, starting with a fun two-week trial of their three samples.

As for the future of Gemist, Fraser wants to continue creating a new kind of user experience through technology, not only for consumers, but also for jewelry brands. “We will continue to expand our product offerings, roll out exciting partnerships with designers to enable this unique feature on their sites, and create even more advanced digital experiences for our consumers.”

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