From glittering gems to precious metals, fine jewelry has always seemed slightly unattainable from outside its glass cases and heavily guarded stores. But what was once only a status symbol of a few has lately been finding its way into the modern day woman’s collection. With an ever-increasing number of designers branching into the fine jewelry market, and more ladies investing in these luxurious pieces for their everyday wardrobes, there has been a major shift in the past few years in how we consume these sparkling stunners. But as a fashion editor (and lover of all things shiny), I haven’t seen as much of a shift in the way that we shop for these gorgeous pieces.
We’ve talked before about a few innovators in the fine jewelry sphere before, but it wasn’t until I came across the e-commerce platform MEMO that I really had the a-ha moment of the future of buying jewelry. Based on the old tradition of jewelry houses loaning pieces to their top clients “on memo”, Debora LaBudde, the brains behind the site, is changing the industry in a major way. So, when the opportunity came to chat with her about all things that gleam, you’d better believe that I leaped at the chance.
Where did you get your start? Have you always worked in jewelry?
I have a business background and have spent most of my career supporting and investing in innovative companies pursuing significant market opportunities. I also have a personal passion for fine jewelry, so my impetus in starting Memo really stemmed from both business and personal interests.
The fine jewelry industry is very large and has gone through a lot of change in recent years. The number of varying designers and styles present today has evolved the consumers’ interests. The retail environment, however, hasn’t changed quite as quickly, creating an opportunity for new retail shopping experiences in the sector.
So, my background in business and experience as a consumer of fine jewelry has certainly played a role in how and why Memo was created. Much of the shopping experience is tailored after what I look for and expect when discovering a new designer or purchasing fine jewelry.
When did the idea for Memo first occur?
I have always loved discovering new jewelry designers, but the traditional shopping experience left something to be desired — pieces were often intimidatingly behind glass cases or starkly online with little explanation. Luxury retailers also tend to place minimal editorial focus on the fine jewelry sector leaving a gap between the designer and the customer. I wanted to connect with jewelry — and its designers — in a deeper, more meaningful way. I also desired the luxury of viewing pieces at home on my own time, and thus the idea of Memo was created.
Can you walk us through the purchasing process at Memo? Doyou take custom orders, and where do you currently sell to?
Memo is an online destination to discover and experience fine jewelry. Through rich imagery and video content, clients can discover new designers and understand the craft and inspiration behind their work. Clients are given the additional and personal step of utilizing the company’s at-home try-on service, also known as taking a product ‘on memo’ for a 3-day period. Following the complimentary 3-day at home try-on, a service which is currently available in the United States, a client can either confirm their purchase or return their order utilizing a prepaid insured shipping label.
Although the Memo shopping experience begins online, our team frequently assists clients with locating a certain piece on the site, questions regarding sizing or styling, or creating a completely custom piece with one of our designers. We recognize that most of our clients like the independence of discovering designers and collections via the website and trying pieces on at home on their own time, but often with fine jewelry, the human touch is helpful and sometimes necessary to make sure a piece is right. Understanding our clients’ interests and needs also helps us better tailor a shopping experience to fit what the current fine jewelry customer is searching for.
How do you curate the designers on the site?
Superior quality of design and materials is tantamount as we consider new designers. We also look for designers that bring a unique point of view or who may be known for presenting a particular style or design approach. We’re very conscious to select curated collections that provide a strong representation of the designer’s work and that stand out uniquely from the other designers we showcase.
What do you think should be the key qualities to look for when purchasing fine jewelry?
While purchasing fine jewelry is ultimately guided by one’s personal taste, quality materials and superior design are two key qualities to look for to ensure that a piece we fall in love with can truly be a forever piece. For many designer fine jewelry pieces, often just by holding a piece and seeing its detailed craftsmanship up close, a client can intuitively see and understand its quality.
Can you share with us any exciting things happening in the future of Memo?
At Memo, we’re constantly looking for new ways to delight and service our clients while enhancing the overall experience of discovering and purchasing designer fine jewelry. Today, we’re looking at new services that we can offer our clients to break down the barriers to exploration of fine jewelry and to make that experience a richer and more meaningful one.
What tips can you share for building the perfect jewelry wardrobe?
It’s truly an exciting time in the fine jewelry industry with a number of exceptional designers changing the perception of when and how fine jewelry is worn and with wonderful pieces that can be worn day to evening. While building a perfect jewelry wardrobe is also very personal, I think having select pieces that can be your go-to pieces every day — a great pair of hoops, a favorite pendant necklace, a stackable ring and a stand out cuff is a perfect way to start. It can then, of course, be fun adding to your core collection by adding a touch of color or a unique style or design that can either be paired with other pieces or worn separately. So many items today can be both stacked or worn independently, offering a number of great and varying looks with just a few pieces.