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Try Before You Buy: Inside Gemist's Unique Model Disrupting Online Jewelry Shopping


Gemist is offering a unique online shopping model with their try-on boxes.


FORBESWOMEN - Yola Robert, Senior Contributor - May 17, 2022, 01:44pm EDT


With the global fine jewelry market projected to hit $340 billion by 2025, 18-21% of those sales are forecasted to be made online. The rise of online fine jewelry shopping is largely due to the change in consumer behavior led by millennials and Gen Z specifically for engagement rings. But the biggest hurdle the industry has seen is actually delivering what the customer wants without them seeing or touching it, causing return rates to be higher than average. Gemist has aimed to make the process more seamless whether you’re buying an engagement ring or huggie earrings through their design experience and home “try on box” option. CEO and founder of Gemist, Madeline Fraser, came up with the premise for Gemist through her first-hand frustration of unsuccessfully designing a custom engagement ring online. “Before I started Gemist, I was looking for my own engagement ring but I wanted something custom and unique to me. Being a digital consumer and a start-up tech founder, buying online was my first instinct. It wasn’t until I started shopping that I realized that option really didn’t exist! To me, the combination of a beautiful design experience and the ability to see and feel your design in person before purchasing was necessary to give consumers an easy and fun experience. Try-on is becoming a more common experience in many other industries. When I realized this wasn’t happening at all in jewelry, I knew I had to dive in - the opportunity was too huge to pass up,” Fraser explained.

Gemist allows customers to customize and design their own jewelry online. COURTESY OF GEMIST


Adding try-on to the intersection of technology and custom fine jewelry has been a key differentiator for Gemist. The Gemist customer gets to design and customize their jewelry piece online, next Gemist sends a try-on box for them to physically try on their unique design and then they can decide what to purchase. “We were the first to spearhead this kind of a unique experience with an important factor in mind — to make sure the consumer is able to design the pieces they try on,” Fraser shared. “It was very important to me that we give the consumer the power of choice. They can decide what combination of elements work best for their aesthetic. By adding design to the flow, we give the consumer the experience of trying on what they actually want to see, not just what’s available. The combination of design and try is really our value-add that isn’t available anywhere else.” Fraser wants to be a major player in the shift of the jewelry industry moving towards digital focus and customization paired with a try-on experience that can help bridge that gap for the industry. “We know that 85% of today’s modern consumers expect customization and 71% want to try before they buy. This is a demographic that’s been trained to create items that feel unique to them and usually is presented with the choice of try-on. It’s common in other industries like fashion & eyewear, so it makes perfect sense when it comes to rolling these experiences into jewelry. The jewelry industry as a whole is minimally online and rooted in traditional family jewelers and brick & mortar retailers. It was going to take someone with a different perspective and background (in my case consumer technology) to begin to shift the industry toward a more digitally-focused direction.” This model has reduced their return rate to under 2% versus 30.7% industry national average and they have also seen a 2.5x higher average order value when consumers engage in the try-on experience. One of the biggest successes at Gemist is helping engaged couples find the perfect ring. 70% of couples today have designed their engagement rings together at some level rather than it being a total surprise.


Non-diamond engagement rings have become popular amongst millennials and Gen Z. COURTESY OF GEMIST


Frequently, the partner that is proposing will bring in their partner to help with design and customization but then continue the process alone with Gemist to keep the timing a surprise. Another unexpected trend that has evolved from Gemist’s try-on is a try-on proposal. In learning from their users, Gemist has created “The Proposal Experience” where the proposer orders a Try-On box of three options, proposes with one, and then the couple gets to make their perfect ring together, beginning with a fun two-week test drive of their three samples.


As for the future of Gemist, Fraser wants to continue to build a new kind of user experience through technology not only for consumers but jewelry brands as well. “We will continue to expand our product offerings, roll out exciting partnerships with designers to enable this unique functionality on their sites, and create even more advanced digital experiences for our consumers.”

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Yola Robert Writer of all things and host of 'I Suck At Life' podcast.