Offering independent jewelry retailers the convenience of one-stop shopping, Star Gems has taken off since its 1986 beginnings in Chicago. Now, with offices in both the Windy City and Georgia as well as a sizable factory in Mumbai, India, the diamond importer/jewelry manufacturer even boasts its own jewelry line called Vogue.“Just last year, we started offering products under the brand of Vogue,” says Star Gems co-founder Anish Desai. “Before, we never used a brand name for what we did. We’re giving it a face now, a gorgeous face with distinctive ads to engage consumers in the bridal market.
“If a retailer is carrying a big bridal name and he puts Vogue next to it, it’s outperforming in sales at the counter vs. the big brands they’re already carrying in the store. It’s the more reasonable price points we can achieve on the product, and at the end of day, the consumer is getting the look that they’re after.
“The problem in today’s industry is that if they’re established brands, consumers feel they’re overpriced. The consumer who has X amount of dollars for a bridal ring purchase wants to get twice the look.
“They are definitely after a certain look and feel of the product. Using a nice stone in a bridal line gives a nice look, and we offer heavyweight mountings to go with it.
“The line itself, Vogue, has the caption ‘The World’s Most Captivating Jewelry.’ And overall, Vogue is not just bridal, but bridal and diamond fashion” – including high-end earrings, pendants and bracelets.
Star Gems claims “one of the largest ideal make, certified (GIA, AGS and EGL) diamond inventories in the Southeast,” ranging from a half-carat to 5 carats. The company also custom-designs websites for retailers and offers extensive marketing support.
Understanding Retailers’ Needs
One-stop shopping is a major enticement for Star Gems’ independent retail customers.
“Everything we do is done in-house,” Anish says. “Designing the catalog, production of the pieces – it’s all within our umbrella. We have a distinct advantage in that we’re not dependent on third parties.
“We’re experiencing exploding growth because of our product and being a one-stop shop. If a retailer needs a custom piece, he will call us. If he needs loose diamonds, he will call us. If he needs a piece redone, we can handle those changes. Almost 90 percent of what you see on the web is in stock for us, so that gives a big advantage because they want it tomorrow – they want it yesterday!
“We’re a unique company in the sense that we can confidently say we have a complete understanding of retailers’ needs, not only in products but in marketing,” Anish says. “We offer the best of both, and we offer it in a package allowing complete changes in a product. We offer different shapes and stones to accommodate what the retailer is selling, and we mix it up with very strong marketing. We provide retailers with the whole package, starting with website design to search engine optimization, allowing them to increase their market share.
“With the number of designs we have, it gives retailers leverage in exposure. We give them almost $2 million worth of jewelry product line almost instantly at their disposal, and then about $6 million or $7 million in loose diamond inventory.”
The company offers retailers a catalog of 3,000 to 4,000 pieces, and Vogue’s retailers may offer custom-designed pieces, as well.
Star Gems does not deal in lower-end product lines, Anish adds. “The quality and finishes we offer cater to the upper-end consumer.”
Starting from Scratch
Anish arrived in the United States in 1986 to work for a diamond wholesaler out of India, bringing with him just $500. “Within 60 days of coming here, the company folded. I had to start from scratch, and I was fortunate to have my Chicago partner, Vilas Jain, to help guide me through the process,” he says.
“I came from Bombay. I’d learned the trade in India for two years, polished diamonds, but a lot of the jewelry part when I started in manufacturing five years ago was a learning curve in itself, a learning experience.
“We’re based now in a much larger facility,” says Anish. We just moved last year to our 4,000-square-foot facility in Norcross (outside Atlanta). We’re currently servicing 500 independent retailers,” Anish says. “We do not service chains; we’ve been solicited, but we have committed to the independent retailer in this industry.
“The biggest advantage for the retailer is that we have a full-service team and an IT department set up within our network,” Anish says. “We have the capability to provide a retailer with the graphics they might need to produce a billboard or print ads. We go in and create a web plan with the retailers, not only with our product line but also with others – everything the retailer has in his store. We’re the only one to offer a monthly flat rate. If a retailer wants to add a few other products or add other links, or they want to change a banner for an upcoming event, it’s included in the fixed-rate program. It also includes e-blasts.
“We were pioneers in web designing. It started about eight to 10 years ago, way before anyone else started – before retailers even realized they needed a web presence. It’s really evolved in the last three years.
“We have a phenomenal team here that keeps everything running smoothly. Without that team, this would be impossible. The team is our backbone of success.”