How Ice.com Wants to Disrupt the Jewelry Business

One of the people who helped create Build.com, a home-improvement e-tailer, is now heading Ice.com and plans to turn the revamped site into a leading jewelry marketplace. 

Site CEO Brandon Proctor, formerly Build’s chief marketing officer, says his Austin, Texas–based company will apply the minimal-inventory model favored by Blue Nile (as well as Build.com) to other types of jewelry.

“Our site will be a marketing arm for manufacturers to sell more product,” says Proctor. “Instead of having it sit on shelves, they can offer it up to the consumer.” 

Formerly, a Montreal-based family of diamond traders ran Ice.com: At one point the low-end site did $80 million in business before falling victim to increased competition. Proctor’s company, Round2, bought the site in 2014 and hopes to relaunch the platform in the next three months.

“We’re well backed, we’re well funded,” Proctor says. “We are ready and willing to make a splash.”

He thinks there is room for another player in the jewelry dot-com space, as category leader Blue Nile is mostly known for engagements. 

“Blue Nile serves a high end,” he says. “But you can do this across all products from rings to necklaces and bracelets.” 

He admits that he is stilll learning the jewelry business but says he didn’t fully grasp home improvement before joining Build.com. 

Selling is “data-based,” he says. “The data tells you what you’re supposed to do. That has been for my forte. That is what I plan to do with Ice.com.”  

And while jewelry is a visually based product that most consumers still want to see and feel, Proctor notes that was also true for home improvement.

“People are getting more confident [in online shopping],” he says. “You can do video, you can do additional product photography.” 

Perhaps his most intriguing suggestion is developing what he calls an “algo” (short for algorithm, one assumes) that will calculate an item’s value. (“Jewelry buying shouldn’t be such a scam,” reads one of its job ads.)

“We look at GIA certification and all these different certifications, and there is an opportunity for a simplified ranking system that will give a more qualified estimation of the actual value of the jewelry,” he says. “The complexity of these systems should be for jewelers, not for consumers. I see an opportunity to remove all of that complexity,” Proctor says. 

“We want to bring the accessories and jewelry into the 2.0 age,” he continues. “There is a huge opportunity to simplify the process. That’s the challenge.”

JCK News Director