Signet Jewelers has acquired Rocksbox, the 9-year-old jewelry subscription service that lets customers sample and possibly buy items for a monthly fee.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The San Francisco–based service works like this: For a $21 monthly fee, Rocksbox sends subscribers three jewelry items each month—two they’ve picked out, and one “surprise.” Subscribers have the option to try, return, or buy those items.
“Our members are able to wear [around] $150 worth of jewelry at a time at a fraction of the price of buying them,” says founder and CEO Meaghan Rose via email. “One way to think about the value proposition is, you could spend $250 to buy three pieces of jewelry, and wear the same three pieces every day. Or you could spend $250 for a year membership of Rocksbox and have new styles to wear all the time.”
When members buy items, they can use their $21 monthly fee as a purchase credit, though that credit does not roll over from month to month.
“This means no more buying something and realizing later that you never really end up wearing it, which has happened to us all before,” Rose says.
The new acquisition “provides an additional point of entry for self-purchasing women customers, a segment where Signet is currently underdeveloped,” according to a company statement. “With jewelry rental subscription, Signet will tap into a highly engaged customer base [and] generate a new revenue stream.”
Rose will join Signet, reporting to CEO Virginia “Gina” Drosos. The company will remain headquartered in San Francisco, with fulfillment run out of Cleveland.
“Rocksbox will operate as a largely independent banner and will benefit from our company scale where it makes sense,” says Signet spokesperson David Bouffard.
It’s also likely some Rocksbox services will be integrated into Signet’s brick-and-mortar stores, he adds.
Rose founded her company in 2012 out of her bedroom. After getting an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, she worked for consultancies Bain and McKinsey & Co. before starting what she described as a “small jewelry brand” in New York City.
“Through that experience, I came to appreciate how many designers were out there and how hard it was for these great brands to get distribution and build brand awareness,” she told JCK in 2013.
But her big inspiration was Sephora, which let consumers sample items before buying them.
“There are thousands of [jewelry] designers out there,” she told Retail Dive. “[I]t’s hard to know if you’re really going to love something when you just look at it on the shelf somewhere.
“So, I started thinking about if I were to create a shopping experience, just to re-imagine it, for jewelry what would that look like. I came up with this idea of instead of having all of this product just sitting around in the warehouse or on a shelf somewhere, why don’t you just send it to the customer and let her wear it and then she can decide if she wants to buy it or not.”
By 2017, Rocksbox had received $11.5 million in venture capital funding.
During Signet’s most recent conference call, Drosos mentioned that Signet wanted to explore subscription and rental services—though she didn’t bring up Rocksbox, which combines both.
Rocksbox is the second digitally native company Signet has bought in the last four years. In 2017, shortly after Drosos took over, the company purchased e-tailer James Allen for $328 million.
Last year, another try-before-you-buy service, Gemist, which is not subscription based, received funding from De Beers. Gemist founder Madeline Fraser recently appeared on JCK’s podcast, The Jewelry District.
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