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After being unable to find an ethically sourced diamond engagement ring, Beth Gerstein took matters into her own hands and co-founded Brilliant Earth in 2005. In the years to follow, Brilliant Earth disrupted industry practices by selling diamonds from ethically and environmentally responsible sources. “About two-thirds of the diamond industry is [made up of] neighborhood jewelers, so it’s an industry that hasn’t really evolved,” says Gerstein on the latest Glossy podcast.
Brilliant Earth prides itself on the highly personal experience it provides its customers in-store. The brand has 20 showrooms throughout the U.S. Its latest opened in Edina, Minnesota on June 2. It plans to open up to 15 more locations 2022.
During the pandemic in 2021, Brilliant Earth saw a 51% increase in annual net sales, reaching $380 million. And its first-quarter 2022 earnings report showed $100 million in net sales. Gerstein credits the brand’s success to its nimble supply chain. Beyond selling ethical jewelry, Brilliant Earth partners with social programs like Feeding America and the Rainforest Alliance to further its global advocacy mission.
Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Setting new standards
“We were founded with a mission to transform the industry to make it more responsible, sustainable, transparent and inclusive. These values are very important to the younger consumer where sustainability is table stakes. When customers were coming to us, they knew we were doing a lot of diligence on their behalf. We were the first jeweler to offer beyond conflict-free diamonds, which were traceable to their origins, and provide a much higher level of transparency in terms of where the diamonds were mined. Transparency is important to the customer and it’s something we value.”
Thinking outside of the box
“There were a lot of challenges during the pandemic, and one of them was in terms of supply chain disruptions. We built the company to have a very nimble supply chain to be able to have a lot of flexibility. When the shutdown happened, we launched virtual appointments. We were the first [diamond company] to do that, and customers responded well. Making sure we were able to continue to deliver excellent quality in the turnaround time that customers were looking for was always a challenge, but it was something we were able to step up to.”
Maintaining customer expectations
“When customers come in, it’s very curated. We typically find couples shopping together, so it’s important for us to be able to speak to the proposer, the proposee and all genders that are involved in the purchasing process. After the appointment, we have a nice digital clientele experience where you’re able to see all the items that you saw in your appointment, online, along with additional recommendations. It’s that combination of digital and physical that unlocks the value there.”