Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. This also best describes how Ring Concierge Founder and CEO Nicole Wegman decided to launch a diamond-ring-centric business despite never working in the jewelry industry. Now almost 10 years later, the company has doubled its growth YOY into a multi-million dollar a year business.
Like many New York brides-to-be, Wegman set out to the diamond district in search of her ring and was underwhelmed by the experience. “I shopped 47th street like many New Yorkers, and I didn’t find it a pleasant luxury shopping experience. Who should I trust? How do I know if it’s good quality? I felt like I was being ripped off, and there were no modern styles,” she said in an interview in her Madison Avenue headquarters of Ring Concierge. “It’s the most expensive purchase a couple makes until they buy a home; it’s a big deal. There wasn’t an engagement ring-focused company that knew how millennials wanted to shop.”
Wegman’s background was as a buyer for Bloomingdales.com. She founded Ring Concierge in her living room, became a GIA accredited jewelry professional certification course, and worked out of her living room or suppliers’ conference rooms. Entirely self-funded and profitable, the brand’s initial $2,000 investment has now grown to a company that boasts 795 percent growth over the last three years.
Being an outsider to the jewelry world mainly worked in Wegman’s favor, except for finding partners in supply and manufacturing who viewed her as an outsider. “I understood customer behavior and an assortment of products. I decided what this company should look like and who my partners should be. It took a while to find people who understood what Instagram and online shopping was or could be,” said the CEO.
Wegman attributes her success to several factors. The first is transparency in a business not always known for it. She also uses social media to its fullest potential, mainly featuring the product on herself before many in the jewelry industry adopted the medium. She sold via E-comm from the start and had established remote selling before the pandemic; thus, her team was ready for that transition in 2020.
She also employs as many women as possible. “The end user and shopper is usually female, and we understand how they like to shop. We offer the female perspective, which also helps men shop for their significant other,” Wegman noted.
Service also weighs into the equation. Wegman plucked a Director of Production from Harry Winston two years ago. This allows the quality of her goods to mimic a luxury piece of fine jewelry.
For instance, when choosing a ring, she recommends buying a diamond with longevity to your taste. “The setting can be something you love now, but it can be changed in ten years as odds are you will like something different then.”
Like many jewelers who sell engagement rings, she has noticed brides looking for a bigger, statement diamond in the five, six, and seven-carat range, especially in the trending pear cut with emerald cuts a close second. Due to the price and scarcity of natural diamonds, Wegman has seen an uptick in demand. In just two years, these diamonds have gone from 1.3 percent of Ring Concierge’s sales in 2020 to 18 percent in 2022 YTD.
“It’s about the size of the stone versus any environmental concerns,” she clarifies, adding, “There is a risk associated with lab-grown diamonds. Prices are dropping yearly, so if you want a big diamond to wear now and don’t plan to trade it in, it’s the best visual bang for the buck. But we can’t promise lab-grown will hold value.”
Brides and grooms-to-be from across the spectrum of couples arrive at the Midtown showroom—which bears a downtown look with polished cement floors and modern, minimal décor—to work with a team of seven specialists assisting couples. The engagement rings and wedding bands start at $10,000 for made-to-order styles. There is an online “create and shop” offering for rings that cost less.
In 2016 after wooing clients—70 percent are female and 45 percent married—with design-centric bridal engagement rings, she expanded to offer fine fashion jewelry at every price point. Ring Concierge has 25 new jewelry drops, adding 90 styles a year. “We sell things from 70 dollars to seven figures; we have something for everyone,” she assured.