“Brass and Glass” is the affectionate name given to silver replica rings set with cubic zirconias. It essentially allows jewellery shoppers to try on rings and other jewellery before they buy so they can see what it looks like on their hand, whilst keeping inventory cost for the retailer at a minimum.
When I first thought about this idea a couple of years ago, I thought it was stupid and “trashy” for a jewellery retailer to have fake rings in their showroom. I then set upon trying to build a reasonable amount of rings for our showcase. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite work out for the following reasons:
- People rarely bought the diamond that was set into the ring. Essentially, that meant the whole concept was flawed from the beginning. It also meant we had to melt down quite a few rings as the diamonds were taken out of them without the ring being sold.
- We never had time to work on rings for our showcase, as we were too busy making rings for clients.
Anyway, late last year, we were introduced to a “brass and glass” program from a third party manufacturer. Whilst these pieces were not real, they were rhodium plated, and most customers couldn’t even tell the difference between them and the real thing.
Due to feedback we’ve got from our clients on these “brass and glass” rings, I have totally changed my mind about “brass and glass”, and think there are huge opportunities for the entire industry, such as:
- Online retailers sending “brass and glass” rings to their clients to try on. This eliminates probably the major pitfall of buying a ring online- the inability for consumers to try rings on before they buy.
- Small manufacturing jewellers can display designs to their clients so not only will they be able to compete with large retail chains in respect to how many rings they display, but they can now focus more on manufacturing rings for their clients, not their showcase.
- Wholesalers can give retailers a full line of jewellery with virtually no inventory or opportunity cost. Meanwhile, retailers can expand their product lines at little to no cost.
The undisputed king of “brass and glass” is Canadian based Spence Diamonds, who feature open showcases for people to look at rings without a sales assistant. Customers can then view real loose diamonds, pick one and pair it up with their chosen ring design. Like most internet vendors, this puts more emphasis on the centre diamond, and generally produces a better quality finished product than one that is bought off-the-shelf.
At the moment, we are working on our own “brass and glass” models, as well as new engagement ring designs. We hope to have “prototypes” of all our rings ready later in the year, so that not only can people in Perth view our designs in our showroom, but we can also send them out to interstate and rural areas. And whilst I’m betting that most of our competitors will think it’s a “trashy” thing to do, I’m sure our customers will like viewing our ring designs in person, rather than on a computer screen.