Beth Gerstein of Brilliant Earth: ‘The diamond industry has not evolved’

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After being unable to find an ethically sourced diamond engagement ring, Beth Gerstein took matters into her own hands and co-founded Brilliant Earth in 2005. In the years since, Brilliant Earth has upended industry practices by selling diamonds from ethically and environmentally responsible sources. “About two-thirds of the diamond industry is [made up of] neighborhood jewelers, so it’s an industry that hasn’t really evolved,” Gerstein explains on the latest Glossy podcast.

Brilliant Earth prides itself on the highly personal experience it provides to its customers in-store. The brand has 20 showrooms across the United States. Its latest opened in Edina, Minnesota on June 2. It plans to open up to 15 more sites in 2022.

During the 2021 pandemic, Brilliant Earth saw a 51% increase in annual net sales, reaching $380 million. And its results for the first quarter of 2022 report posted $100 million in net sales. Gerstein attributes the brand’s success to its agile supply chain. Beyond selling ethical jewelry, Brilliant Earth partners with social programs such as Feeding America and Rainforest Alliance to further its mission of global advocacy.

Below are additional highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for clarity.

Setting new standards

“We were founded with a mission to transform the industry to make it more responsible, sustainable, transparent and inclusive. These values ​​are very important for the young consumer where sustainability is a table stake. When clients came to see us, they knew we were doing a lot of due diligence on their behalf. We were the first jeweler to offer conflict-free diamonds, traceable to their origin, and to offer a much higher level of transparency regarding where the diamonds were mined. Transparency is important to the customer and something we appreciate.

Go off the beaten track

“There were a lot of challenges during the pandemic, and one of them was supply chain disruptions. We’ve built the business to have a very agile supply chain to be able to have a lot of flexibility. When the shutdown happened, we launched virtual appointments. We were the first [diamond company] to do so, and customers have responded well. Ensuring we were able to continue to deliver excellent quality within the turnaround times customers were looking for was always a challenge, but it was something we were able to overcome.

Maintain customer expectations

“When customers come in, it’s very organised. We usually find couples shopping together, so it’s important for us to be able to talk to the proposer, the nominee and all genders involved in the buying process. After the appointment, we have a beautiful digital customer experience where you can see all of the items you saw on your appointment, online, along with additional recommendations. It’s this combination of digital and physical that releases the value there.