The quintessential engagement ring set-up has become a pricey and questionable thing, making it a lot less enticing for millennials. Some are settling for coloured gems, such as spinels. Others look for alternatives, such as watches.
Businesses are trying to modernise the way diamonds are bought, but taking out the middle man or ensuring ethical sourcing of stones. Now, what’s surprising is to have homeware retailer, Iuiga, stepping into this competitive sphere.
They aren’t just tip-toeing in either. The Singaporean brand made a shocking debut with an S$1,799 one-carat diamond ring in April. It has since been readjusted to a new price, at $2,099.
But, this is still just a fraction of the traditional retail price, typically $20,000 to $25,000 for a similar ring offered in a jewellery boutique. It sounds unbelievable, but Iuiga’s promise of ‘transparent pricing’ tries to unpack the whole affair.
All the details…
Materials — the round diamond and 18K white gold — take up 75 percent of the price of the solitaire ring. Iuiga picks a stone within the colourless range of diamonds (specifically, D to E). There’s only one setting available: the classic six-prong ring which allows the diamond’s brilliance to shine through. Each ring is handcrafted, made to order for various ring sizes.
You won’t be able to try the ring in stores. What Iuiga offers instead is a ‘try-on kit’. For a $199 deposit, interested parties get a box with replicas in cubic zirconia and sterling silver to try on at home.
“We chose to offer a home try-on as there’s a lot of emotional and financial investment when it comes to shopping for diamond rings,” according to Iuiga. “Experience-wise, it’s way more intimate than physical shopping where you most definitely will face pressure to make a purchase.”
… and even more questions.
It’s attractive to so far, but there are questions and concerns that are creeping up.
For one, the ‘try-on kit’ won’t quite provide the same experience of trying an actual diamond ring. Silver bands look and feel different from 18K white gold bands. Sparkly cubic zirconias are hardly good representations of diamonds either, in clarity and/or colour. Other than the desired size of the diamond, there’s little choice to what type of diamond the finished product will end up having. It’s still a stab in the dark.
But the bigger question is: where are the diamonds from?
While most traditional jewellers go for naturally-mined ones, Iuiga goes for a more affordable but also ethical option. The $2,099 ring uses lab-created diamonds sourced from international suppliers.
There’s hardly any difference otherwise. Iuiga’s still has the same exact properties — and flaws — of natural diamonds. Each brilliant-cut stone has the same weight and clarity as well as the same degrees of inclusion and tints of Botswana-mined diamond. Respected gemologists such as the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) also accord such stones through similar assessments and documentation.
Yet, with this in mind, a $2,099 one-carat diamond ring from Iuiga is still a rather competitive price — even when compared with a similar lab-created diamond ring.
Business is booming
Within the first few hours of launching the diamond ring, Iuiga has loaned out all of its ‘try-on kits’ and has a waiting list of customers to entertain.
Iuiga’s take on the classic diamond ring may not satisfy those who are very particular about the little details. But, it has identified a growing group of consumers who are simply just looking to buy good diamond jewellery without swimming through throes of research and information.
Still, it’s a rather admirable effort to try to change up the diamond market a little.