For the past 35 years, Star Gems has been evolving its business with its retail partners and a focus on helping them stay ahead of the curve.
The company was co-founded in 1986 by Vilas Jain, opening Star Gems Chicago loose diamond division (presently run by Jain’s son, Nirav), and Anish Desai, opening Star Gems Atlanta for fine jewelry manufacturing and, more recently, sales technology development. Since 2010, Star Gems has become a go-to manufacturer for more than 2,000 retail partners in North America, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and Europe for custom jewelry design and tech solutions that benefit their bottom line.
Desai’s son, Rohan joined the company in 2018 after graduating UCLA with a degree in Economics – already knowing his way around the office from working summers there through high school. As Project Manager, Rohan has been overseeing Star Gems’ growing custom orders business, streamlining its processes to better serve its retailers and the end consumers.
Rohan, 25, shares his perspectives in this Q&A, as a young Millennial keen on creating new pathways with technology to expand the jewelry industry, empower jewelers to compete online, and cultivate the idea that jewelry can be anything you want it to be.
You joined the family company right after graduating college, why?
RD: I always had it in my mind that I would work for Star Gems. I enjoy creating efficient processes and conceptualizing new avenues to generate income. After college, I wanted to work somewhere I could see the results more directly, rather than being stuck in a corporate structure. Star Gems is in a position of massive growth. I am focused on business and how processes work together to create success. All industries are built on these ideas. Joining the family business was the best opportunity for me to make an immediate impact doing what I enjoy.
What are you most proud of so far in your pursuit of greater efficiencies?
RD: I have been focused in managing our custom orders and streamlining the process to serve our retailers better. In custom orders, we now offer wax models that are printed very accurately and have led to a higher closing ratio for retail salespersons. We have our 10,000+ CAD designs gallery available to our retailers logged into our site. These designs are easily searched with filters, and new designs are added every day. We have also tightened our controls along the entire process. Everything we do is incredibly detailed to ensure nothing is missed and responses are very prompt. Text Me Chat, introduced in 2019, and Sell By Text, a feature we added to it earlier this year, are important retail tools, extensions of our ethos to serve end consumers better.
Could you share more about Text Me Chat and Sell By Text?
RD: We are incredibly forward thinking, willing to learn and bring in new technologies to help our retail partners succeed, like Text Me Chat and Sell By Text. Just five years ago consumers were still wary to buy online and now commerce is mobile focused. Text Me Chat is a messaging app designed to enhance your customer experience, manage your contact list, inquiries, and calls from a safe, secure, user-friendly dashboard. Keep track of data, merge multiple channels into one inbox, prioritize and send messages, and capture and convert consumer traffic. Sell By Text enables retailers to create unlimited catalogs of products for flyer programs, monthly specials, and Facebook Live sales, as well as invoice and accept payment via text and email, and unlimited group messaging possibilities.
Could you describe the growth of custom work for jewelers that Star Gems has developed?
RD: We make custom design and manufacturing easy for retail jewelers to offer their customers. Our focus since 2010 has been on developing our custom design and manufacturing capabilities for our retailers, and creating marketing and media tools to help them close sales. We realized the younger generation is growing up online and in a digital world. Buying and shopping habits are changing. In 2016, we launched our patent-pending Custom Studio™ mobile app that allows for real time changes to designs with simple drag and drop features. No CAD training required, and access to a jewelry catalog of one-of-a-kind pieces to browse for ideas, with CAD specifications, and 3D product videos. You can instantly share designs via text, import images, and modify stone shapes, sizes and colors. We’re on a mission to create the world’s largest database of design discovery that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Are there any new tools that Star Gems is launching this year?
RD: Coming out in Q4, Star Gems is launching a retailer facing Custom Design iFrame to inspire custom design conversations and collect data. We are also working on developing a pricing tool that will speed up response times and further empower retailers. We continue to position ourselves to be more accessible and transparent with our retail partners. My father worked hard to get us to where we are today, and I aim to expand on that in a way that will have a positive impact on our retail partners and the jewelry industry at large.
What about diamonds inspires you?
RD: Diamonds and jewelry in general have always interested me. I like the art of the designs that get made. And, diamonds have been symbolic throughout history as heirlooms in many capacities. The fact that people have such connections to diamonds, such as reusing them as we see today, shows the sentimental value. Also, the manufacturing aspect of it inspires me. It’s a combination of real world technologies we see and practical applications in manufacturing. Case in point, we use a 3D scanning machine to create STL (stereolithograph) files to build wedding bands around engagement rings and fit stones into CAD designs. It basically scans objects like rings and stones, and creates a 3D computer model of them so we can build around that model in the CAD program. 3D scanning is a recent technology, so it is interesting how we have been able to use it in our manufacturing.
As a Millennial, how do younger gen consumers view diamonds?
RD: Jewelry is as popular as ever. Diamonds are still seen as cool and necessities for engagements and weddings. Although, Gens Y and Z are more open minded to other stones like lab-grown diamonds and color stones. We offer lab-grown diamonds, from melee to large sizes, because the demand is there from consumers for the product. It’s about choice. I really want to spread the idea that jewelry can be anything you want it to be.
How should the diamond and jewelry industry be engaging with younger generations to capture their attention and dollars?
RD: People are online more often than ever, so online engagement is critical to get their attention to get customers into your store. Response time is key, as younger consumers are used to getting what they want right away, and willing to buy anything online, just look at the success of Carvana. Retailers must be able to sell online, and show what sets them apart. Part of that ability to sell online is not to lose their attention by embracing technology that enables quick response.