Randy McCullough, the new CEO of Charles and Colvard, the main marketer and distributor of moissanite, very generously took some time to talk with me today. McCullough is now stranger to the industry, having previously served as chairman of Samuels Jewelers. He seemed genuinely happy about his new position at the company, which just reached a minor milestone by regaining compliance with NASDAQ listing requirements.
What are your priorities as CEO?
My first priority is to determine the right approach to the consumer as far as pricing, the positioning, everything about moissanite. We have accomplished that. The second is to find appropriate partners. We are continuing those negotiations. We are also doing strategy planning, figuring out where we go from here, looking at things like sourcing. Do we continue to buy from Cree, or do we start to produce it ourselves? There are host of things, but so far I am nothing but optimistic.
There has been a lot of confusion over whether moissanite should be marketed as a diamond substitute or its own product. Where do you stand on that?
Nothing is a substitute for a diamond. I don’t care what anybody says. There is no person in the world that wouldn’t rather own a diamond. If that changes, something is wrong with the world.
But not everyone can afford a diamond. So moissanite is a great alternative. Everyone wants the experience of wearing two carats on their ears. With moissanite, they can do that. It’s an affordable luxury experience.
At the beginning of its history, moissanite was sold to independent jewelers. It later became very successful a department store item. Where do you see it sold now?
We are looking at every channel. The independents, department stores, the mall-based stores, the home shopping networks. We want to avoid some of the confusion we had in the past where everyone went after the same customers. When we do a partnership, it will be exclusive to their target customers. We have sat down and reversed engineered what the price point is based on the target consumers.
When I was at Samuels, there were a lot of occasions when three different suppliers with moissanite came at us and tried to undercut each other. So this exclusivity will remove that confusion.
How will you market the product?
I am a big believer in marketing, but we won’t do independent marketing. I feel you are not making an impact on the consumer unless you are doing it in conjunction with the retailer.
So it will be co-op?
Will anything about the company change?
In the past, we had a lot of product with moissanite as the center stone and moissanite on the side as small melee. I’d like to see moissanite as a center stone with diamonds as accent stones. I think moissanite with diamonds is a great combination. You’ll see more of that.
Anything else you want the industry to know about Charles and Colvard?
They are going to see more moissanite product in the next 12 months than they have seen in the past five years. I can assure you of that. And when they will see it, they will see it’s so much better than it was five years ago. The look is very much improved, especially in the color. I really feel the improved product coupled with the economy as it is really opens a lot of doors for moissanite. That’s why I am here. I am just infatuated with the product.