A great-great-grandson of Louis Cartier, Jean Dousset is no stranger to the industry and certainly no stranger to diamonds. Starting with a Los Angeles showroom specializing in bespoke engagement rings in 2005, the entrepreneur has recently focused on his digital engagement ring platform, Oui by Jean Dousset.
Making its debut last year (you can read JCK‘s coverage on that here), the platform, an offshoot of the Jean Dousset brand, seeks to make available its quality of goods at more accessible prices by offering smaller stones and semi-customization options.
After just a year, Dousset is offering another facet to its engagement ring options: the lab-grown diamond.
After conducting a survey of his brand’s email subscribers, Dousset learned that many of his customers’ dream rings were out of budget: 48% of respondents said their ideal carat weight was between 2 and 4 carats; 49% also said their budget for an engagement ring was under $10,000.
Enter the lab-grown diamond, for which 50% of the survey’s participants said they would consider purchasing. “As the technology and quality of lab-grown diamonds has vastly improved, and I saw how important lab diamonds were becoming for consumers, I realized it could be the solution to the problem I was trying to solve with Oui in the first place,” said Dousset in a statement. “The goal of Oui has always been to make high-quality jewelry more accessible.”
With the recent debut of lab-grown diamonds to his platform, JCK had the opportunity to ask Jean Dousset a few questions.
What has been the consumer response to your lab-grown diamond offering?
The response from consumers has been exceptionally positive and immediate. There is a lot of excitement about our Oui by Jean Dousset lab-grown designs, where people can finally reconcile their dreams of a larger engagement ring they can afford without sacrificing everything else quality wise. It has been very freeing.
While there is still somewhat of a divide in the industry, it feels as if more retailers and their customers are getting comfortable with the idea of lab-grown diamonds. Would you agree?
When there is a significant change in any industry, there will always be some resistance and fear. Jewelry is a particularly traditional industry, and lab-grown diamonds are disrupting the very core of our activity based on rarity and exclusivity. Lab-grown is here to stay, and everyone needs to adapt.
Lab-grown diamonds in an engagement ring are very compelling for customers, so they have been quicker to accept it. The only barrier of penetration for lab-grown diamonds I see is a common belief that they are ”fake” and/or that they can be told apart from natural diamonds. These two ideas are easily demonstrated to be false, so pointed communication on the lab-grown side will quickly dispel these misunderstandings and accelerate their adoption.
It is a value proposition before anything else. Most people want a larger carat weight in their engagement ring than they can actually afford. We conducted a survey that demonstrated price was the number one reason people were interested in purchasing a lab-grown ring. Some people like the sentiment behind natural diamonds, others prefer size over origin. Why should we be the arbiter of what people should think and buy by taking sides?
Speaking of fake, what is your response to those who say lab-grown diamonds aren’t real?
A diamond is a diamond. The brilliance and beauty of the diamond are the same, whether it is grown in a lab or in the earth. Both origins speak to a different consumer belief system.
The most important thing for me is how well the lab-grown diamonds are cut and polished. They need to have the same standards I would look for in natural diamonds. They do now, and they are certified by GIA, which was key for me to enter the lab-grown market. It is paramount for me to use the gold standard of certification for our lab-grown diamonds.
How has the pandemic impacted business? Are there any positives about having to work with customers in a different way?
Like everyone, the pandemic impacted business—especially during lockdowns, as fewer people were getting engaged or were not willing to purchase an engagement ring during a time of such uncertainty.
Pre-pandemic, 70% of our sales were made remotely, so we were uniquely positioned. We spent our time during the pandemic further improving our digital shopping experience. One of the features we added to our site was making our selection of curated diamonds available online for consumers to view from the comfort of their homes. We’ve implemented more ways to educate the consumer before we first interact with them, whether it is through our site experience, our content, or access to customer service. Our feedback from customers has been really positive. That’s been very gratifying to feel we are effectively achieving the showroom experience online.
What’s next for Jean Dousset as a brand?
Right now our focus is to lead the way in luxury lab-grown diamond engagement rings with Oui, to grow Oui alongside our already established natural diamond business. We are continuing to innovate new ways to improve the way our customers shop for jewelry online while being deeply committed to technique and craftsmanship, creating traditional artistry for the modern consumer.
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