Diamonds might soon be a man's best friend if the new bespoke retailer takes off in the way the founder and his backers believe it will
It has succeeded in appealing to the male shopping psyche by easing the process of buying engagement and wedding rings through quick online guidance, unique customization options and 70 percent cost savings on GIA certified diamonds.
Now, UAE-based start-up FergusJames.com is expanding across the region, having just secured AED1.5m in funding from local angel investors. Arabian Business speaks to founder and diamond curator Fergus James Appleton on why “off-the-shelf” offerings are no longer in vogue, why he rebranded Dubai Rocks and why not every diamond dealer is a millionaire.
Why the decision to re-brand your company?
We wanted to create a business with global brand appeal that effectively communicated our quality and professional approach to diamond curation and high standards of customer service. Fergus James reflects and improves all of these elements as well as opening the door to regional and international expansion.
Tell us about your new model. How does it work?
It’s a hybrid, flexible model that allows customers to interact with our professional team of diamond curators (myself included) as much or as little as they want. Buying a diamond engagement ring is a really important stepping stone in life so Fergus James is here to support our customers by making it as special and as stress-free as possible.
We provide highly qualified impartial diamond and jewellery advice, thereby making sure that we find the perfect diamond and ring design match for all our customers. Similar to all online-focused businesses, we offer immense value for money with 70 percent cost savings, but never compromise on quality as our diamonds are GIA certified and sourced from the De Beers Global Sightholder’s list of companies. We ship globally as well as allowing customers to collect products from our Dubai headquarters and satellite offices in London and New York.
What mistakes have you learned from your previous experience as Dubai Rocks?
With any new business, you’re learning so much as you go along – when I first started I thought that it was important to give customers what I thought was the best value diamond specification personally. I quickly realised that all customers are looking for something personal and unique so it’s critical to listen attentively to what matters to them and then guide customers to amazing diamond options that match their requirements and value expectations. This was a real game changer in the way we interacted with customers, improving our service delivery and order numbers.
How difficult was it to fund your business?
I think most entrepreneurs will tell you it’s tough to get funding, but if your business is performing, and you passionately believe in your purpose and service delivery, then there’s a good chance of someone investing.
What are some myths about working with diamonds that you can debunk for readers?
Not every diamond dealer is a millionaire! It’s a really competitive market so margins are super skinny, which is great for customers but challenging for e-retailers.
What are some of your biggest challenges now?
Our biggest challenges over the next 12-24 months are around continuing to refine and improve the Fergus James experience as well as launching and competing in new markets regionally and internationally. We’ve already got operations based in the UK and US, so we need to develop these opportunities. We also want to launch into KSA in the next 12-18 months so are proactively looking for the right partner in that particular market.
What are some trends that consumers are looking for when buying diamonds?
We’ve noticed an increasing number of customers choosing diamond shapes other than round. Customers are looking for something unique and personal so Fergus James’ advice and guidance increases as fancy shapes are more complex. The professional Fergus James diamond selection and procurement process really supports our customers increasing desire for different shaped diamonds.