When it comes to buying diamonds online, Ritani is a girl’s best friend

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but picking out an engagement ring strikes fear into the heart of many a man.

Today, jewelry brand Ritani is wedding the online and offline worlds of engagement ring buying. The company unveiled a new e-commerce initiative that lets the betrothed peruse, design, and buy online. But the gut feeling that says “this ring is the one” cannot be transmitted over the Internet, so the high-end jewelry market has remained largely offline.

According to a study published by trade publication Jewelers’ Circular Keystone (JCK), only 30% of jewelry brands are e-commerce enabled, and those that are struggle to create compelling user experiences. Diamond merchants worry that selling online cheapens their brand, and yet as more and more commerce occurs on the web, they will need to have a digital presence.

“There is no-one out there addressing the next wave in consumer change, which is omni-channel shopping behavior,” said president Brian Watkins. “Someone who shops both in store and online typically spends about 30% more than someone who only shops in one or the other. These consumers are younger, more loyal, and more affluent than the average customer. This is exactly the customer jewelry retailers want, and chances are if they buy an engagement ring from you, they are your customer for life.”

People may do their preliminary research online, but a majority of purchasing still happens in store. This is not only because the industry has been slow to embrace new platforms, but also because there is something disconcerting about choosing a diamond ring in the same way as a new pair of sneakers or tablet. With major investments, customers want to try before buying.

Ritani responds to this issue by partnering with local retailers. Shoppers can request to have two loose diamonds or two potential rings shipped to a nearby jewelry store for consideration. To start, thirty retailers around the country are participating in this model.

“With customers, seeing is believing,” Watkins said. “People want to buy online, but really feel like they want to see it and touch it in the store. There you can interact with a trusted sales associate and see the product, see how it sparkles. Diamonds are not a familiar good, and it is an emotional purchase that represents love and a relationship. It doesn’t feel right to have it delivered in a box on your doorstep.”

Until now, Ritani rings were available for purchase in 380 stores around the country. The new site not only offers a full catalogue and the ability to securely conduct transactions, but a host of other tools to help with the selection process. Lovebirds can look over informative materials and consult with gemologists and jewelry experts.

The site features a dashboard of how to search for a diamond, considering shape, carat, cut, color, clarity, price, as well as high definition, zoomable images of the jewelry, and 360-degree videos. The permutations are overwhelming. For those guys who aren’t sure what their beloved desires, or those girls who never gave much thought to an engagement band (yes, we do exist), there are even tools to assist with decision-making.

If all the online assistance is not sufficient to take the final plunge, the in-store option comes into play. Ritani also announced today that it has raised $15 million fromĀ Cantor Ventures, which will go towards expanding the platform to more customers and retailers nationwide, who make money off every transaction.

Ritani is headquartered in New York, with the e-commerce division in Seattle. It was founded in 1999.

Square-cut or pear-shaped, these rocks don’t lose their shape, so make sure the shape is the right one.

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