Blue Nile's CEO Sean Kell, who has been at his position since 2019, has announced the opening of three showrooms. In an interview with JCK, Kell talked about his business's recent challenges due to the pandemic, as well as imparting a degree of skepticism towards lab-grown diamonds.
When describing how soon the new stores will be built, Kell said, "We are targeting the top 50 cities and areas in the United States, and in some of those cities, I imagine, we’ll end up with more than one store. So our
"It is essentially the same concept in that it’s a small-format store where consumers can see, feel, and touch jewelry and speak with one of our diamond and jewelry experts," said Kell regarding if these new stores will be similar to previous ones. "There is a mix of live and not-live stones in there, but the idea is that consumers are trying on and looking at jewelry with the purpose of then selecting their actual piece and then buying the diamond through our website. What’s different is that the stores are generally a little bigger than what we’ve opened in the past. We’ve learned from our prior five showrooms that consumers want a little more space. What happens is, the stores get full, and people end up waiting outside, especially with the pandemic and restrictions on the number of people who can be in a store at one time. As we hopefully get past [COVID-19], there will be fewer restrictions, but we’ve found that a slightly larger store is a great way for more consumers to be able to look around and interact with our diamond and jewelry consultants."
Kell then responded to a question asked about his opinions on the ever-growing lab-grown diamond industry, and whether or not Blue Nile will partake, saying, "We’re watching the lab-grown business pretty closely. To us, there are two parts to it. There’s the center-stone engagement lab-grown business and then there’s the fashion jewelry lab-grown business. We think of those two as completely different businesses. We continue to be skeptical about the long-run value for consumers from the center-stone engagement ring business. Over time, I just worry about the value of a lab-grown stones as production ramps up. So, we’re kind of wait and see on that. On the fashion jewelry side, we’re pretty excited about that and we’ve been looking pretty hard and talking with a lot of different folks about fashion lab-grown jewelry because of the brilliant and amazing colors [that can be produced] and the consumer value proposition. That’s something we’re looking hard at, and we’re in pretty good discussions with a bunch of folks about that."
Information originally sourced from JCK.