Having an important spring event canceled by the coronavirus is basically a rite of passage these days. Birthdays, weddings, vacations—you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t been forced to cancel one of these highly anticipated events and reap the financial consequences. But there is one special moment many people are refusing to let fall off their calendars, pandemic-be-damned: the proposal. And this is where the Ring Concierge makes it easy.
In recent weeks, the Internet has seen couples get creative in order to propose without shirking the need for social distancing. There have been proposals over Zoom calls with the respective families conferenced in. There were proposals through bedroom windows for couples quarantined separately. We’ve even seen first responders propose, still dressed in their scrubs and masks, in between shifts at hospitals.
And while it comes as no surprise that proposals that were already in the works before quarantine would bring a “show must go on” attitude to our current circumstances, I do wonder whether couples at the beginning of their engagement processes are as gung-ho. Are these couples at all hesitant about shopping for rings without the ability to visit a brick-and-mortar jewelry store?
For answers, I spoke with Nicole Wegman, Founder, and CEO at Ring Concierge, the NY-based bespoke engagement ring and fine jewelry company.
“We’ve found the vast majority of our customers are not allowing COVID-19 to prevent them from planning their futures with their significant others, and that includes designing and buying their dream engagement rings virtually,” Wegman said.
If ever there were a jewelry business designed to survive the pandemic, it is Ring Concierge. The engine of their e-commerce business is their shocking presence on Instagram—just shy of 300,000 followers. And because they receive most of their inquiries via Instagram DM, their clientele is largely international or out-of-state.
Ring Concierge works with these clients in order to design their engagement rings through phone calls, skype sessions, emails and text messages. They send high definition photos and videos of the diamonds and settings in natural light so their clients have an accurate visual representation throughout the process.
So, while other jewelry companies are scrambling to get their ducks in a row for remote business, Ring Concierge is an old hand at exactly this.
The process of designing a custom engagement ring begins with a conversation with one of Ring Concierge’s Bridal Consultants, where you’ll discuss cut, color, clarity and setting preferences.
“We don’t keep an inventory because we don’t want to push any of our clients towards a specific diamond that they may not want. That’s why after your consultation, we source from all over the world and find diamonds based on your budget, style, and preferences,” Wegman said.
This consideration is a leftover from when Ring Concierge founder, Nicole Wegman, was searching for her own engagement ring in the NY diamond district seven years ago. Wegman found the intense ‘used-car-salesmen’ energy she was receiving from the older, mostly-male jewelers on 47th street created a non-ideal environment in which to find her forever ring.
Conversely, when she visited luxury retailers like Harry Winston or Tiffany’s, she felt those places were brimming with options but lacking in affordable or even reasonably priced rings. This was when Wegman noticed a gap in the market. Where were the options for young women?
“Most jewelry stores advertise towards men, suggesting it should be gifted to a woman. But we’ve found that most couples shop for engagement rings together and typically the woman is actually the driving force in the design and decision-making process,” Wegman said.
Ring Concierge’s staff looks remarkably like their clientele: young, professional women interested in modern trends that remain classic and evergreen. And their business model meets young women exactly where they live and shop: social media.
Having a customer base that prefers, if not exclusively, to shop online is another reason Ring Concierge is uniquely designed to adapt to a 100 percent remote workforce. But the transition has not been without its hiccups. Wegman herself was diagnosed with a presumed case of COVID-19 during the first few weeks of working from home.
Inspired by the nurses, doctors, first responders and grocery store workers keeping New York running and allowing businesses like Wegman’s to operate from home, Ring Concierge is now offering a 20 percent “hero discount” for all essential workers.
“Love hasn’t stopped and neither has a couple’s desire to take their relationship to the next level. A lot of couples have been together 24/7 for the past month and have had more time than usual to talk about the future and start browsing rings online and on Instagram. We haven’t seen a slowdown in ring requests at all, quite the opposite actually,” Wegman said.