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This afternoon we are talking engagement rings with Jason D’Heureux, Creative Director from Taylor & Hart. Weddings may be on hold at the moment, however getting engaged is still on and what better time to do it! Choosing your engagement ring may be a bit harder than normal as just popping along to your local jewellers may be a bit tricky! However, Taylor & Hart offer a custom made jewellery service that is completely virtual and totally personal, meaning you can still choose your dream engagement ring in the comfort of your own home – ‘We will ignite your imagination and bring your engagement ring ideas to life. Individually designed or customised by you, your personal design consultant will offer their guidance and insight along the way.’ Creating both lab-grown & mined diamonds and gem stones in a variety of colours and shapes Taylor & Hart have a variety of styles to cater for any taste.
I have invited Jason D’Heureux the Creative Director onto the blog to answer a few questions about the company and offer some advice on designing your own engagement ring.
‘Joining the team from across the pond, Jason leads product development and manages the overall direction of the brand. His passion for jewellery is infectious and his love of all things beautiful is reflected at Taylor & Hart. Completing an MBA and leading teams in other industries before making a change into jewellery, he also manages the human resources function for the team. As a trained GIA Graduate Gemologist, he’s our resident expert on coloured gemstones.’
What made you join the business?
I was drawn to how the company was disrupting the engagement ring sphere in 2015. Back then we were called Rare Pink before we re branded to Taylor & Hart at the start of 2017. I knew I wanted to be part of shaping the brand into becoming “top of mind” in the bespoke engagement ring market.
When did you start?
March 2015. So thrilled to be celebrating my 5th anniversary this year!
Where are you based?
I am based in London. As a company, we have team members in London, UK; Sofia, Bulgaria; New York, USA; and Mumbai, India. As a mostly online retailer, we sell globally.
What were you doing before?
Studying at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in New York.
What makes you different to your competitors?
Many of our competitors claim to offer bespoke or custom but they don’t really–they offer customisation. We are able to offer fully bespoke designs–taking your inspiration and ideas to create a unique ring design for you. And yes, we have a ready-to-wear collection of engagement and wedding rings where you can further customise to your heart’s desire.
We think of every interaction with our customers as an information exchange–collaborating at every step of the process. Our sales consultants are jewellery designers first and foremost, whilst also being throughly trained in metals, diamonds and gemstones. Our company’s ethos is to treat every customer like a family member.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
My role is both creative and commercial–for me, this is the perfect blend. I get to work on beautiful ring designs and stimulating physical spaces–both feed my creative soul. On the commercial side, my designs drive 70% of our turnover and we covert over 75% of in-person consultations, which is partially due to our customers feeling comfortable in the atmosphere I have created for them.
What sort of couple do you think you attract?
Our couples represent a broad cross section of our cosmopolitan world. We are champions of modern love–from university sweethearts to second marriages; from mixed nationalities (especially true in London) to same sex; from City-types to rural villagers; our brand is truly inclusive.
Can you give me some information on your pricing structure?
Our prices are very competitive within the online engagement ring marketplace.
Are people really buying engagement rings online?
We’re a “clicks and bricks” retailer–offering the best of online coupled with the personal touch of a store. While many of our greater London customers come in for a consultation, about 25% of our sales come from outside the UK. So yes, people are really buying engagement rings online–many from thousands of miles away, never seeing the product beforehand.
How do I design my own engagement/wedding ring?
The first step is getting to know you and your partner. From there, we will make initial recommendations based upon your answers. Thereafter, we will propose 1-2 design routes and collaborate on refining the design. 95% our customers finalise their design in 2-3 rounds of amendments! This shows the level of care we put into the process ensuring you always feel supported and are making the right decisions for you and your partner. The process can either be done in person, via a virtual consultation, email, phone or Whatsapp–lots of ways to communicate with our dedicated design consultants.
What is a lab-grown diamond? Are they more ethical than an earth-grown diamond?
Diamonds are pure carbon that have undergone a transformation due to high pressure and temperature on its chemical structure. For centuries, diamonds were only available through mining. In the past 50 years, through incredible innovation, companies can now create diamonds in labs recreating the high temperature and pressure found within the earth’s mantle. To help create a distinction between these two types of diamonds, the government and the diamond industry now classify diamonds from the earth as mined and those created in labs, as lab-grown.
Definitively, we can say that lab-grown diamonds have less of an environmental impact because there is mining is involved. Unless we know the conditions within the factories producing lab-grown diamonds, we are able to comment if this aspect is ethical.
What are the engagement rings trends for 2020/2021?
Most industries, including ours, have seen a shift towards greater transparency and sustainability. More and more consumers want to feel their values align with the brands they are choosing to purchase from.
Lab-grown diamonds are rapidly growing in popularity as customers see them as being more ethical than mined diamonds. They are also about 30-40% cheaper than mined diamonds. About 15% of our diamond engagement rings sales are lab-grown.
The march towards more individuality and personal expression continues amongst millennials. This means the move away from tradition i.e the round diamond to fancy shapes like ovals, hexagonals, rose-cuts, etc. More unique diamonds like salt and pepper (white/grey diamonds with flecks of black carbon crystals), black, grey or shades of yellow like champagne and cognac are easy ways to express your personal style.
Coloured gemstones like sapphires, rubies, tourmalines, aquamarines, morganites, etc. add a fantastic pop of colour to engagement rings. Dainty pavé diamond or plain bands will continue to grow in popularity. The Duchess of Sussex really helped to set and elevate this trend. Everything old is new again. Vintage-inspired designs continue to be popular.
What is your favourite coloured stone?
I love yellow diamonds! The intense vibrant yellow colour is like encapsulated sunshine. For coloured gemstones, sapphires are my favourite because of their durability and the fact that they come in a stunning array of colours–blue to green; yellow to orange; pink to purple; and black to white (colourless).
What colour is most popular?
Shades of blue like sapphires and tourmalines and softer pastel coloured gemstones like morganite and peach sapphires.
What is your ideal way to spend a day off?
My ideal day off is catching up on the gym or going for a run along the Thames. Later in the day, opening up a fantastic bottle of wine and cooking dinner from scratch.
Who would be your 5 dream dinner guests dead or alive?
Alexander the Great, Oprah Winfrey, Barack & Michelle Obama; Suzanne Belperron
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Start my own jewellery brand and a charitable foundation focusing on eradicating homelessness and hunger.
If you weren’t doing this job what would you be doing?
In a prior life, I was a partner in a modern furniture studio in Chicago. Recently, I was in charge of the design and fit-out of two new Taylor & Hart spaces: a showroom and workshop/office. I thoroughly enjoyed these projects and it reminded me of how much I love and miss the furniture industry.
In response to the global coronavirus pandemic, we have started offering virtual consultations to our customers. We convert over 75% of our in-person consultations, so trying to recreate that experience was a challenge. Luckily, we’re already a very tech-drive business which greatly helped the transition. The response has been very positive and it’s something we’ll continue to offer once we’re past these precarious times.
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