Short Pump, VA – Diamonds Direct opened a new showroom in Short Pump on Nov. 5, making it their fifth showroom in the country. Diamonds Direct boasts one of the largest jewelry showrooms in the area and also includes a kids area. Their business model is to bring diamonds directly to the consumer, cutting out the middle man. Customers can either choose from ready-made pieces, or they can create a piece of jewelry by choosing the individual elements–the diamond and the setting–separately. Diamonds Direct offers the largest selection of individual loose diamonds in the area (approximately 6,000-7,000 diamonds) which consumers can choose from.
“Richmond was a natural market to expand into,” says vice president Barak Henis. The headquarters for Diamonds Direct is in Charlotte, NC, where they also opened their first showroom. Their three other showrooms are located in Austin, TX; Birmingham, AL; and Raleigh, NC.
Diamonds Direct started its direct-to-public model in 1995. The partners are site holders in a mine, and they own cutting facilities in Israel. Approximately one-third of all diamonds in the U.S. are cut in Israel. In 1995, the partners in the mine and cutting facilities decided to open large high-end showrooms where customers could enjoy the experience of learning about and choosing a diamond with no middle man. Now, the store offers thousands of gems for consumers to choose from and the widest selection of diamonds that are two carats and larger.
Henis has been with Diamonds Direct since 2004. He was working on his second law degree at Bar Ilan University when he met the president of the company and joined the Diamonds Direct Group. After completing professional gemology studies at Diamond College in Ranat Gan, Israel, he worked for the group’s cutting facility, selling jewelry door-to-door to high-end retailers in the U.S. He worked his way up in the company and is now vice president of the Richmond and Raleigh stores.
When asked about who typically comes to Diamonds Direct to shop for jewelry, Henis says they see mostly couples coming in, looking at engagement rings and other pieces together, and then the man usually comes in later by himself to make the final selection and order the piece. “My best advice when shopping for diamonds,” Henis offers, “is to pick the diamond she picks. Get what she wants. Don’t try to surprise her. The surprise of proposing marriage is in the timing.”
One of Diamonds Direct’s customers agreed. He spoke with DowntownShortPump.com on condition of anonymity, since he hasn’t proposed to his girlfriend yet. He and his girlfriend recently came in together, so she could look at diamonds and settings. This second trip was for making the final selection and ordering the ring. “The first time I came in, I was pretty nervous, because I’m not into jewelry as it is,” this shopper said. “It was a lot easier walking in today now that the choice has been made, and I know what I’m doing.”
The brother of this shopper bought his engagement ring in Charlotte for proposing to his wife, and he didn’t have enough good things to say about the experience. So, when Diamonds Direct opened in Richmond, the choice was easy for this customer.
This gentleman had been to some of the other traditional jewelry stores, but he felt like they were trying to push pieces on him without explaining anything. At Diamonds Direct, he came in knowing nothing about diamonds and has learned a lot throughout the diamond buying process. He said the best part about working with Diamonds Direct is that the process has been “more relaxing, really calm; they worked with me a lot and I felt no pressure whatsoever.”
In addition to diamonds, Diamonds Direct does offer some pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and other semi-precious stones, as well as a selection of wedding bands and replacement mountings. Henis points out however that their competitive advantage is with diamonds.
When asked about trends in diamonds, Henis said that large fancy yellow diamonds are a popular bridal trend right now. Another cut called a cushion cut is gaining in popularity. A cushion cut diamond is sort of a cross between a round brilliant and a princess cut. The appeal of cushion cut diamonds is that they are like pebbles–no two are the same. Each cushion cut diamond is a little different, so the wearer will always have a diamond that is uniquely her (or his) own. The cut is more subjective and artistic. Cushion cuts tend to be about 25% less than other cuts as well, which means one can get more diamond for the money. Henis adds, “When it comes to diamonds, size is king.”
Another service that sets Diamonds Direct apart is that they offer something called a presentation setting free with each diamond they sell, which can be used either as a temporary setting or as the diamond’s permanent setting. Most places charge for a setting. The presentation setting is a nice solitaire setting a man can use when he asks a woman to marry him (since in over 95% of all engagements, the man still asks the woman). This presentation setting is nice enough to keep, and roughly 50% of customers decide to keep the presentation setting. However, if the woman wants to come in and choose a different setting for her diamond, she can do so.
To celebrate their opening, now through Feb. 10, people who like their Facebook page have a chance to win a $500 gift certificate for Diamonds Direct. Their grand opening is tentatively scheduled for late February. For more information about Diamonds Direct and for contact information, please visit www.Diamonds-Direct.com.