One of the surest signs that online retail is taking over? The new predominance of online fine jewelry sites. Start-ups like Gemvara (one of our favorites) and more established players, like Blue Nile, are holding strong, while the rest of the fine jewelry sector actually slows down. Tiffany & Co., for instance, just lowered its share outlook for the year.
There are a few reasons for fine jewelry’s new-found strength online, some of which are obvious, like the lower overhead and operating costs. However, recent success can be more broadly attributed — Gemvara, along with its competitors like Plukka and the aforementioned Blue Nile, have made the online customization process incredibly appealing. Meanwhile, it doesn’t take a particularly devoted bargain hunter to do a bit of research to realize that the online-only players are offering steep discounts against their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Ultimately, the sites’ steady success can be attributed to these factors combined with increasing consumer comfort with buying online. So, with growing competition from the Web, what are London Jewelers, Tiffany & Co., and their ilk to do? While we ponder that, with Gemvara receiving a $25 million capital injection from its latest round of funding today, whatever the solution is, it needs to come quickly.