Collecting and conjuring up the nerve to ask your special person to marry you is no doubt an anxious — and exciting — experience. Never mind the diamond buying experience.
Oh that. Yes, many women want a diamond. That’s still the norm, despite certain trends of women wanting other center gems like sapphires and emeralds, and others saying that millennials don’t buy diamonds. The latter which DeBeers not only doesn’t buy, it debunks.
But regardless, the ring buying experience can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. Where to start, what to choose and possibly most importantly: how to not get ripped off.
That’s where Rare Carat comes in. The Wall Street Journal recently spoke with the company’s founder, Ajay Anand about his company which is now being dubbed “the Kayak of buying diamonds.” That word Kayak refers to the discount airfare website.
The former actor now Wharton Business School graduate founded the company after going through a three-month ring buying experience pre-proposal to his girlfriend back in 2015. He, like many millennials, wanted to get a big stone, but more so a good deal.
Rare Carat employs IBM Watson technology to compare and contrast diamond prices at a slew of online retailers from Blue Nile, Brilliant Earth and even Costco.
Sure, buying online is no doubt less romantic. If you want to make it that, you have to buy your own champagne, versus being handed a glass upon entry to stores like Tiffany & Co. But, that champagne and lack of romance could be spent better, quite possibly through Rare Carat.
The platform’s goal is to make the experience simple with serve parameters and filters, allowing grooms-to-be to save searches and have price alerts sent to them when certain diamonds fall within their preferred requirements. Meaning, grooms-to-be can set the alert for a one-carat cushion cut diamond of a certain quality to become available for under $3,000.
He had a little background in the Anand’s previous work experience included working for Rocket Internet which takes American web companies and brings similar versions to international markets. One of those companies was named 21 Diamonds, so he had a little more familiarity than the average groom. However, during his research for Rare Carat, he went to New York’s diamond district on 47th Street and still felt like he wan’t getting a good deal. Online sites, he found, didn’t have the transparency or understanding he needed for feeling like he wasn’t taken for a ride.
Anand is Rare Carat’s sole equity owner, who adds that he has self-funded the company with $1 million. Looking to the future, he’s looking to raise a Series A by the end of the year.
He and his colleagues Martim Schnack in tech and Saurav Pandit (both in data science) realize that they’re going to have to disrupt the industry in order for more shopping grooms to come to their site. According to De Beers Insight report, more than 90 percent of millennials look online first before making a diamond purchase. That’s good news for Rare Carat, however when they go to purchase, the majority choose the bricks-and mortar. So the Rare Carat team is working to add personal interface on the site and building on an Artificial Intelligence bot to talk through the buying experience. And, there’s a potential for a “virtual try on” for brides, although it’s unclear what that would look like.
“This industry is hurting not because of anything other than its own doing, and that’s across the value chain,” says Anand.