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Used luxury jewelry has a new way to shine and sell online

April 4, 2016 11:57 AM
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(Bloomberg)—Buying a secondhand $7,000 ruby necklace on the Internet sounds risky. But a startup has found a way to successfully sell previously owned luxury gems online.

Gleem & Co. is a high-end consignment jewelry marketplace that features pieces ranging from a $288 Hermès gold enamel bangle to a $124,000 Cartier diamond Art Deco bracelet—a one-stop shop that insures, appraises and sells secondhand items on its e-commerce platform.  

"Gleem targets the older millennial, the customer that increasingly is looking to trade in and update their assortment," said the company's co-founder and CEO, Nikki Lawrence, in an interview with Bloomberg TV. Prior to starting Gleem in December 2014 with co-founders Scott Friedman (a master gemologist) and Casey Sullivan (formerly of BNP Paraibas/Fortis Investments and LVMH's DFS Group), Lawrence led new business launches at Gilt Groupe and Soap.com.

Customer empowerment

Customers can sell jewelry for 70% in cash or 90% in online credit to Gleem & Co. Of course, you can also just buy.

"We're trying to empower women to make their own jewelry selections and believe the woman deserves to get fair value and exceptional pieces," said Lawrence.

While the site caters mostly to women, the male shopper is not completely ignored. There are free concierge services for engagement rings ($1,900 to $109,000) and to help source rare timepieces, such as a $19,050 Franck Muller ref. 3870 double-face chronograph in 18K yellow gold.

E-commerce jewelry sales increased 11% in 2015, the fastest-growing retail category for jewelry in the U.S., according to Euromonitor. And customers are increasingly buying jewelry at a younger age. In the vintage segment, there's a boom in secondhand luxury retailers as well.

Combatting fraud

The biggest challenge facing online jewelry resellers is combatting fraud. Gleem relies on co-founder Friedman's expertise to authenticate its offerings. As a master gemologist appraiser, a title held by fewer than 50 professionals in the world, he inspects every item in the company's $5 million collection, which is then insured through Lloyd's of London.

It wasn't long before e-commerce giant eBay Inc. started paying attention.

"EBay shares our philosophy that jewelry should be accessible and available at honest prices," said co-founder Sullivan, Gleem's head of marketing. "We've partnered with eBay to co-promote our Gleem baubles as a store within a store."

The company is currently incubated in the Friends of eBay office space in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. According to Sullivan, Gleem just opened its seed round of funding, and business is booming.

 

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