So, what do London Diamond & Exchange do?
We source and supply bespoke jewellery, loose coloured gemstones and diamonds.
What’s behind the business idea?
The market is dominated by high street jewellers and luxury brands that have huge overheads and charge enormous mark-ups. We’re different, we do not hold any stock or inventory and we do not have any retail premises.
Consequently we keep our overheads, including staff costs, to a minimum. By operating a streamlined business model we are able to offer true value for money.
Was it hard becoming a business owner?
It is never easy to get a business off the ground and this is clearly emphasised by the fact that at least half of all business start-ups fail in their first 3 years.
However, with risk comes reward and I have always wanted to run my own organisation and watch it grow and develop.
How did you recruit your employees?
We operate with a very small, tightly knit team, enabling us to keep costs to an absolute minimum, whilst ensuring we meet our customers’ needs. I have always recruited by word of mouth and direct recommendation, as I have found this to be the most reliable method of hiring the right people.
Was there a breakthrough moment?
There have been many small breakthrough moments over the past three and a half years and these have collectively enabled us to get to where we are now:
- In 2015 we received UKTI (UK Trade and Industry) growth funding;
- We were shortlisted for the KPMG SME Awards 2016 in the categories of “Start-up, one to watch” and “Entrepreneur of the year;”
- In 2017 we have been shortlisted for the UK Enterprise Awards;
- We are currently in the advanced stages of interview for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses incubator scheme;
- We have been nominated for the Lux Wedding Awards 2017;
- We also successfully completed our first round of equity crowdfunding with Seedrs in May 2017.
How is the company doing?
The company is performing well, it is expanding and we are looking to take on new staff and explore new opportunities in the coming months.
Do you have any regrets?
I think hind sight is a wonderful thing but you never have the benefit of it at the time!
If so how did you over come them?
On balance I would say I don’t have any major regrets and where we have made small mistakes we have clearly identified them, learned from them and moved forward, better equipped to deal with future problems of that nature.
What makes you stand out from your competitors?
We have identified a clear gap in the market for a hybrid e-commerce approach to the jewellery and gemstone business, with a keen focus on bespoke pieces and coloured stones. We offer the functionality of a ‘click-and-buy’ website with the personal touch of both face-to-face interaction at our London offices and remote support by phone, email or via our website. This ‘clicks-and-bricks’ approach gives our customers the best of both worlds and the freedom to choose how they wish to engage with us.
Coupled with this we go straight to source, with a ‘mine-to-market’ approach to the supply side of our business model. We have contacts and sister companies operating in the renowned Muzo emerald producing region of Colombia and we have access to the very top of the supply chains for other coloured gemstones and diamonds. All of this combines to enable us to deliver excellence both in terms of customer service and value for money. Furthermore, all of our bespoke products are handmade to order in our Hatton Garden workshops and we encourage our customers and potential customers to visit us here to meet the craftspeople who actually make each unique piece.
What is your definition of a positive customer experience?
Where the customer’s journey, upon reflection, exceeds their original expectations.
You’re currently reaching out for investors, what do you plan to do when you have raised this funding?
We are planning to grow the business and invest in new channels to market. We want to slowly but surely expand our team and build our brand. We also intend to launch a second equity crowdfunding campaign in January 2018.
If you could help a business now with a single piece of advice, what would it be?
Plan a timeline for each project along your businesses journey and then double the amount of time you allow for each one!
Finally, Phil what is your favourite biscuit?!