Jean Dousset launched his L.A.-based namesake diamond brand in 2010. Now, 13 years later, he’s completely reinventing his business model to follow what he sees as one of the diamond industry’s most paradigmatic shifts to date: going from mined diamonds to lab-grown.
To Dousset, the shift is representative of a break from tradition that opens up the world of diamonds to be more inclusive and accessible. The last time the industry saw such a revolutionary shift, he said, was the advent of the internet and online selling, which brought diamonds further into the public eye. Prior, diamonds had been “shrouded in secrecy,” he said, explaining that “it was mysterious where the diamonds were from and how much they cost.” Jean Dousset sells on its own website.
Though interest in lab-grown diamonds has been percolating for some time, Dousset said that, initially, the headway was coming from the tech world. “At the time, natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds were not on equal footing, as far as the beauty,” he said. “[Tech entrepreneurs were] looking for legitimacy from designers who were established to say, ‘I embrace lab diamonds.’ But I wasn’t ready to do it then.” But the lab-grown industry has come a long way, he said, thanks in part to the outside institutions that moderate the industry getting up to speed. For example, lab-grown diamonds can now be graded by the Gemological Institute of America.
“[Lab-grown diamonds] are the great equalizer. People don’t have to compromise anymore to buy a diamond. Aside from the people at the top who can pretty much afford what they want, everybody wanting to buy a diamond has always had to compromise — in size and in quality,” he said.
Lab-grown diamonds have also allowed Dousset a new kind of freedom as a designer, he said. “I get to design whatever I want; I’m not constrained to the economics. If the ring looks best with two stones of this size, then I can do it now.” A ring that used to be $30,000 could now be available for $7,000, he said.
In tandem with the brand’s renewed identity, it will be opening its first store in West Hollywood this summer. And it launched a digital ad campaign in tandem with its relaunch in April. The brand put money behind a paid TikTok centered on a “deep dive” into the company by creator Shannon Lange (62,000 TikTok followers) — it saw a 238% spike in engagement compared to an average post. Influencers are a big part of the brand’s renewed strategy, said Sarah Vincenti, the company’s chief marketing officer. Plus, the company’s experimenting with new platforms, including YouTube, for the first time.
The shift to lab-grown has also allowed Jean Dousset to expand its focus beyond engagement rings; less fear of producing styles with prohibitive retail costs has allowed for more creative designs.
In doing so, it’s seen a spike in the sales of some industry-popular trends. For example, in the month since the company’s rebrand and launch of an extended assortment, 24% of sales have been tennis bracelets and 59% have been eternity bands, said Vincenti.