Brilliant Earth, which manufactures and retails customisable bridal jewellery, has successfully launched its initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ, with its share price rising by 43 per cent, from $US12 to $US17.16, on its first day of trading.
Prior to the listing, the company had reduced its opening price range of $US14–16 per share to $US12 per share, and halved the number of shares available from 16.7 million to 8.3 million.
Brilliant Earth was founded in 2005 by Stanford Business School graduates Beth Gerstein and Eric Grossberg – neither of which had a history in the jewellery industry – following Gerstein’s disappointing purchase of an engagement ring.
The company’s business model is based on simplifying the process of buying bridal jewellery, with its founders criticising bricks-and-mortar jewellers for “opaque sourcing practices and impersonal shopping experiences”.
Brilliant Earth offers customisable engagement rings designed through a digital ‘Create Your Own’ interface. Its products are set with diamonds sourced through, what the company claims, is a rigorously documented supply chain and held to a higher standard than the Kimberley Process.
It also provides an option to use lab-created and recycled diamonds in bridal jewellery.
According to US financial publication Forbes, Brilliant Earth has served approximately 370,000 customers; it recorded sales of $US251.8 million in 2020, an increase of 25 per cent compared with 2019, and profits of $US21.6 million.
In the first six months of 2021, its revenue doubled compared with the same period in 2020, reaching $US163 million.
“Last year was a real turning point for us and now with the IPO, it continues,” Gerstein told Forbes.
While largely an e-commerce business, Brilliant Earth also operates 14 showrooms in the US, with Gerstein saying, “Omnichannel is a winning model for us. Customers like having more than one way to interact. Some may feel comfortable buying completely online, while others like to see the product.”
In the 12 months following the opening of a showroom, Brilliant Earth reportedly recorded an average 80 per cent increase in revenue for the area.
While its bricks-and-mortar presence is confined to the US, Brilliant Earth currently offers international shipping to a number of countries, including Australia.
Commenting on Brilliant Earth’s IPO, Marty Hurwitz, CEO of jewellery, watch and gemstone market research consultancy The MVEye – formerly MVI Marketing – told Forbes, “Traditionally, investors and private equity [firms] weren’t interested in jewellery because it didn’t fit their P/E [price-to-earnings] models. Now they are taking a hard look at jewellery, not because the jewellery space conforms to their models, but because their models are changing.
“This is just the beginning of a lot more investment in the jewellery space.”
Indeed, there are relatively few publicly-listed jewellery companies, with the most prominent in the US being Signet Jewelers (share price $US84.48, at the time of publication) – the parent company of major retail chains Zales, Kay Jewelers, and Jared, and online retailer JamesAllen.com – moissanite and lab-created diamond jewellery company Charles & Colvard (share price $US3.02), and Canadian jewellery retailer Birks Group (share price $US2.75).
Prior to its acquisition by French luxury conglomerate Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in January 2021, Tiffany & Co. had been listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Pandora Jewelry is listed on NASDAQ Copenhagen, and at the time of publication was trading at DKK808.
Locally, Michael Hill International (share price $AU0.86) and Lovisa (share price $AU19.77) are the most prominent publicly-listed jewellery companies on the Australian Securities Exchange.