Lightbox, De Beers’ much-talked-about lab-grown diamond brand, is continuing to make its presence felt in the non-digital world—with a trunk show this week on a cruise ship and a pop-up store next month in Los Angeles.
The pop-up will run Feb. 8–14 at the Westfield Century City mall. It will feature the same 400-square-foot pastel cube that appeared last year at the Oculus mall at the Westfield World Trade Center in New York City. But this time, it will carry a bit of inventory to make actual sales.
“Rather than just have people order on the iPad, we thought we would layer in actual transactions,” says chief marketing officer Sally Morrison. “So we will have a little bit of stock on hand.”
The L.A. store plans events around both Valentine’s and Galentine’s Day, and will host groups of women as well local influencers.
In line with the holiday, Lightbox will debut pink heart-shape stud earrings and necklaces, which will also be sold on its site.
When she spoke to JCK, Morrison was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she was about to board a cruise ship for the first Lightbox trunk show. She says that the brand plans more events throughout the year.
“Lightbox is still small, very start-up-y,” says Morrison. “We are trying to be very flexible and do as many things as we can before we go to market in a major way, when we have a lot of inventory and a lot of production. So we are trying a few things. It helps us to get feedback on our assortment, what people feel about this category. It’s very interesting, all very hands-on.”
She says that demand on the website “has been very healthy and exceeded our expectations. We are just trying to manage it all.”
The brand had announced plans to sell through retailers, but for now, it’s in no rush, Morrison says.
“We are talking to some [retailers], but we have pushed that out a little bit,” she says. “There’s a little more demand than we expected. The plans haven’t changed, but the timeline has been moved. That is going to service us well. What we are learning with customers will be very helpful in shaping the assortment and training materials as we go forward. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s quite a big thing. You learn a lot more talking to 100 people in a retail situation than you do from a website.”
Many in the lab-grown sector have scoffed at De Beers’ assertions that consumers aren’t interested in man-made bridal, saying engagement rings are the bulk of their business. But Morrison says that the in-person feedback it has gotten indicates the brand is on the right track. “When consumers understand it’s a manufactured product, they think it should be less expensive and more like an accessory,” she says.
Lightbox pieces sell for $800 per ct., with the bulk of its items total-weight pieces. Since its late-September debut, the site has been consistently sold out of perhaps its most “disruptive” item, a 1 ct. white pendant for $800, plus mounting. (JCK has seen the item for sale only twice, and it quickly disappeared.)
“We replenish them every couple of weeks,” says Morrison, adding that it plans to have some on hand in Los Angeles.
The Lightbox factory is due to start production in Portland, Ore., next year.
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