We started with a blank sheet of paper and this simple objective: create the best jewelry company on earth. One that would be free of pretensions. Free of elitism. Free of the confusing, unsavory, and frankly often shady sales practices of the diamond industry. One that was free of ethical and social conflict, and the environmental damage that comes from mining diamonds. Our vision was to bring the same innovation to the jewelry world that Apple brought to the computer and device world, and through that innovation, bring value to our customers.
It was 2004, and we knew very little about fine jewelry or fashion. We did, however, know something about technology, and we had a passion for creating fantastic customer experiences. What we did know about the jewelry industry is that it was mired in the past, often didn’t treat customers very well, and, too many times, created profits from exploiting people’s lack of knowledge.
So, on that blank page we started writing down what our perfect jewelry company would look like, how it would be different, and how it would deliver the highest value experience:
- We would sell almost exclusively online. We would allow customers to have the convenience of shopping from the privacy of their home. They would not have to deal with a pushy jewelry salesperson trying to “close the deal”. Selling purely online, we could be incredibly efficient. We wouldn’t have the cost of dozens or hundreds of stores, duplicate inventory, thousands of employees. We could take those efficiencies, and the money saved from them, and use it to create better value and better experiences for our customers.
- As we were selling online, there were no issues around trying to hold inventory in multiple different stores, and this freed us to have as large a selection as we wanted. We set out to develop a huge catalog of engagement rings and fine jewelry. We would give our customers as much choice as possible, but we would not constrain them to those products, we would make it possible to customize any product, or actually create a product that only existed in their minds. Most jewelry retailers discourage this because they want to sell a stock piece quickly and easily. We would encourage our customers to get the piece they truly wanted.
- We would manufacture our jewelry ourselves, in our own American workshops, with American workers who truly gave a damn about what they were doing. We would directly supervise the crafting of the jewelry and make it the highest quality in the world. It was important that all of our employees were under one roof, so the customer care people could talk directly to the artisans making the jewelry. So our fulfillment people could talk directly with the shipping guys. So all of us could solve any problem that would affect a customer as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
- We would invest in providing our customers with the best, most human, caring, and, to the greatest extent possible, joyful, customer care in any industry. We would incentivize our people to create relationships and deep connections with customers, not just sales. We would offer the best, most comprehensive and transparent warranties and guarantees in the jewelry business. Customer care and the customer experience would be our core competency, never to be outsourced, never to be compromised.
- And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we would draw a line in the sand and never sell any gemstone that required environmentally destructive and ethically conflicted earth mining. The mining of gemstones, especially diamond mining in Africa has, for over a hundred years, been extraordinarily harmful for the planet and its people. There’s no reason for it. We knew the technology existed to create any natural gemstone on earth in a laboratory. Like flowers grown in a greenhouse instead of a field, or ice created in a freezer rather than a glacier, these gemstones would be identical to those mined from the earth down to the atomic level. However, they could be perfect, they could be consistent, and they could be tremendously less expensive.
Over the next 10 years we worked resolutely to bring those words on a page to a living reality. We were one of the earliest investors in the science and technology behind creating true pure carbon, 100% identical to mined, high quality “real” diamonds in a laboratory. We sell these today as our True Grown Diamonds. As an offshoot of that research, we developed the Nexus Diamond, our proprietary patented gemstone that virtually identically clones the optical and physical properties of a natural diamond at about 15% of the cost. We like to say that Harry Winston himself cannot tell a Nexus Diamond from a mined diamond without scientific testing. We created and perfected a global supply chain to provide the absolute finest lab created colored stones on earth. Rubies, emeralds and sapphires that are superior to anything that comes out of the ground. They are environmentally and ethically clean, are 100% identical to natural jewels, but are, again, a fraction of the price.
Forever Companies currently consists of three direct to consumer brands. Diamond Nexus, Forever Artisans, and 1215 Diamonds. Each company sells a different product or provides a different kind of service to our customers, but they are all tied together by our core principles and our commitment to the customer experience. Together, we believe, they create the preeminent ecommerce jewelry company in business today when measured by service, overall experience and value delivered.
Since our first web store went live in 2005, we have served over 450,000 customers. It’s been estimated that we have saved those customers 1.5 billion dollars from what they would have spent on traditional mined diamond jewelry. That $1.5 billion, kept out of the coffers of the global diamond industry, has spared some of the toxic waste of mining, which poisons groundwater and farmland in Africa. Sea habits and reefs have been spared. African terrorist organizations, like Boko Haram, have less funding.
It has also has meant that couples starting their lives together can own a beautiful, heirloom-quality ring and go on a honeymoon for the price of the traditional ring alone. We’ve made fine jewelry accessible to people that could have never afforded quality pieces: nurses, teachers, members of the military, real people who earn real wages.
We’ve chosen to keep our operations in the U.S.A., employing hundreds of American workers, while other mass jewelry manufacturers have moved their operations off-shore to increase profits.
Disrupting a $50 billion global industry certainly has risks. We have literally received death threats. We have been professionally trolled. Diamond companies and angry jewelers have set up websites with the sole purpose of trashing us online.
But, we’ve always trusted one thing: customers are smart and they can, with laser accuracy, generally recognize value. Forever Companies has consistently grown at double digit rates for over a decade because of this customer trust. We have the highest rated customer service in the jewelry industry. We are a BBB A+ rated company and a Google Trusted Store. We have earned accolades from major consumer groups and media outlets. Haters can hate but customers rule.
That’s our story so far. We look forward to the next chapter, which is, simply, more. More people saving money. More people enthralled with the ring of their dreams. More innovation and technological wizardry that makes the customer experience even better and more valuable.
And, hopefully, over time, an end to the ecological disaster that is diamond harvesting. Our next chapter will be even more dangerous, in that it will truly turn the little corner of the world we work in upside down. For good.