Though the vast majority of fine jewelry on Earth is designed to be worn by women, as a product it is often marketed to men. That is not so much a fundamental mismatch as it is a reflection of a certain buying bias that exists among consumers, according to Mejuri CEO Noura Sakkijha.
Jewelry is mostly viewed as something given to women, not something bought by them. Maybe for Christmas, maybe for Valentine’s Day, maybe a “shiny way to buy one’s way out of the dog house” – but whatever the occasion, Sakkijha noted, it is often taken for granted within the industry that the buyer and the wearer will be two different people.
Which meant that when Sakkijha was looking to launch her own fine jewelry brand online four years ago, she decided to focus on a central innovation that she felt shouldn’t be all that radical of a concept: designing, marketing and selling jewelry to the woman who will actually be wearing it.
“When you look at Tiffany’s and you see the ads targeted toward men, there’s always the ring, the box, the same thing,” Sakkijha told Refinery29. “I thought, ‘That’s not what we’re looking for.’ We wanted women to think of jewelry like they think of their shoes and their bags – if they want to buy fine jewelry frequently, they can, because now they have designs that fit their everyday life at a price that is reasonable, and [they] get great quality.”
A person buying for themselves, she noted, often isn’t looking for the largest, most sparkly or most attention-getting piece. A statement piece that might be suitable for walking the red carpet or a night at the opera often doesn’t work quite as well in a workplace or casual setting. For those scenarios, Mejuri specializes in simple pieces – small gold hoops, tasteful pearl earrings and daily-wear diamonds that are noticeable but don’t scream “look at me!”
Moreover, Sakkijha noted, the price points reflect everyday wear: A solid white gold ring comes in at less than $100, engagement rings run around $1,200 and the remainder of the price points fall between the two, mainly in the low- to mid-hundreds.
The low price point is a selling point for obvious reasons, Sakkijha said, but at the outset, it can often raise suspicion in shoppers. Early on, customers raised in the era of internet shopping scams Mejuri’s good jewelry bargains and immediately wondered if it was a legitimately good deal. Customers often have to be educated, she noted, because many of them initially assume that the products can’t really be gold or diamonds.
The goods are all quite real, Sakkijha noted – and moreover, they are all ethically sourced to ensure that consumers aren’t buying “blood diamonds.”
The secret to the firm’s low-cost model should be rather familiar to digital commerce watchers over the last few years. By adopting a DTC model that is run nearly entirely online (with the exception Toronto and New York showrooms), Mejuri cuts out a lot of middleman, marketing and overhead expenses that tend to run up the cost of jewelry on the commercial market.
Customers are paying high prices for those commercial pieces, Sakkijha said, but a lot of that price goes to recouping the costs of getting them through the doors of the physical store.
Getting them onto the digital portal has been, if not easy, at least organic. Three-quarters of the shoppers on the site are women buying for themselves, and about three-quarters of those women are millennials who passed the brand name around social media early in the firm’s evolution. To date, Mejuri has 444,000 Instagram followers, and avid fans broadcast the digital shop’s “weekly drops” of fresh inventory onto the site. In fact, they do such an effective job in boosting the signal that Mejuri Monday Editions tend to sell out nearly instantly once a week.
In Mejuri’s founding days, Sakkijha heard “no” a lot more than she heard “yes” – and the word was often paired with the observation that the jewelry market is overcrowded and doesn’t need another boutique brand.
But the brand pushed on, because they knew they weren’t just another online boutique slinging jewelry. Mejuri was also selling an idea: that luxury doesn’t have to be a gift that one waits around to receive. Instead, it can be something they give themselves as a treat.