James Sanders (London Diamonds) is a connoisseur of, and expert, in the luxury market. As an active investor in innovative start-ups and projects, James is also the London Diamonds founder.
As managing director, James Sanders leads the London Diamonds team in penetrating the competitive engagement ring market by shaking up the overly traditional jewellery industry.
Taking On the Luxury Diamond Engagement Ring Sector
Much of James Sanders London based experience in luxury markets and brands has gone into the creation and launch of London Diamonds.
James Sanders says: “London Diamonds represents the kind of innovative business idea that is successfully taking part of the traditional jewellery industry by storm.
“Since we launched, we have taken 1% of the UK market for engagement rings, which is a significant achievement. We have created a company that offers something different from the usual brand selling that goes on this luxury sector.”
How the London Diamonds Team Broke Through the Luxury Market
“By ensuring that our engagement rings are bespoke jewellery designed by the best, using naturally mined diamonds and lab grown, we can sell a diamond engagement ring at a truly fair price,” explains James Sanders. “London Diamonds does not pass on extra charges to customers who want real value – things like property costs and we’ve found that customers respond well to our combination of expert advice and design acumen.
“As a start up in a competitive sector, we need to be a disruptive innovator and find a different business model. And that’s exactly what we’ve done. So many people have let us know that our model works for them in so many ways.
“When it comes to luxury brands and the kinds of customer purchase made, success lies in finding a better way than the competition. As a seasoned entrepreneur, I like to focus on ways to replace what doesn’t work in a market and refine the art of providing the other option.
“This is the advice I would give to any entrepreneur who has decided to invest in or launch a company within a luxury market, whether it’s diamond rings, gold, modern jewellery or any other start up idea.”
What Defines a ‘Luxury’ Brand?
London Diamonds managing director James Sanders says: “In general, a brand is considered luxury if it’s characterised by high levels of quality and, crucially, exclusivity. For example, a diamond ring may or may not be considered luxury, depending on its exclusivity and, more often than not, its price tag.
“Money does contribute towards the perception of a brand as luxury, but as we’ve proved with London Diamonds, clients can be dazzled by the added extras and not realise they’re actually paying for them rather than the product itself.
“A business or name truly considered luxury, as a narrow demographic. in other words, they’re not seeing to serve everyone in the world, rather they are selling the best thing available to a small subset of customers who are prepared to invest in luxury categories.
“If you’re wondering whether your favourite diamond seller is luxury, consider the following. Does the name have a heritage and proven capability for creativity, superiority, sophistication or craftmanship? If not, then your purchase is unlikely to be from one of the most luxurious brands in the world.”
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Luxury Brands and Economic Downturns
James Sanders, managing director of London Diamonds, says: “At London Diamonds we’re preparing for tough economic times ahead by honing our offer and ensuring we work harder. We’re responsible for the kinds of purchases that people search long and hard for – after all, how many times does the average couple buy a diamond engagement ring?
“When it comes to traditional retail, there are extremely difficult challenges on the horizon. In the UK, the Bank of England has been clear that the country is heading for a recession. The ongoing cost of living crisis is absolutely digging into the profit margins for the average brand. And, while I’m sure they will work harder than ever to pivot their business offerings where possible, it will be difficult and small businesses in particular may find it difficult to survive.
“However, while some sectors will clearly struggle, the luxury goods market is an example of a sector that will continue to thrive.”
Demand Is Still There for Luxury Products and Services
James Sanders points to recent research reported by CNBC showing that the ultra-rich continues to demand more from the top brands in the world.
“During these times of economic downturn people are, of course, more likely to cut back on spending, ” explains James Sanders. “However, this isn’t always the case. The difference with luxury names is that people are not just buying the product, they are also buying the positive impact they feel their purchase decisions bring to their lives.
“This is invaluable to people, particularly when the world around them appears less than positive. This is great news for the kind of brand that responds to big money spenders. They need to work on customer loyalty and continuing to build trust during a recession.
“By providing the all-important human touch throughout the customer service experience, luxury names can retain their customer base and even build on it. This could be anything from customising products to suit each customer, ensuring sales staff offer exemplary assistance or offering VIP services where they can.”
Businesses May Need to Pivot and Expand Their Offering
James Sanders adds: “While all of this can help retain clients and make a success of rough economic times, even the richest person around may decide to cut back on their spending.
“This leaves the luxury market needing to pivot and ensure that the widest range of clients can be catered to. This could mean expanding their range, changing their price points or reaching out to customers outside of their immediate vicinity.
“In other words, they could do well as a business to take lessons from a start-up. We are based in London, but our online social media orientated store front allows us to reach clients anywhere. We’re not restricted to footfall in the city, for example, in the way that some traditional jewellery retailers in the UK can be.”
Lessons From a Successful Startup
“We’ve created a city-based online business that helps people make all kinds of important life purchases. Engagement rings or bespoke pieces of jewellery can mark key periods in people’s life, and this is the kind of personal touch we’ve created,” says James Sanders.
“As a start-up, London Diamonds has found its niche, and there are definitely transferable business techniques that luxury brands could take from this. The use of digital marketing and PR, for example, could be utilised in a different way.
“The success or failure of niche brands during a recession will depend on a number of factors. It’s about key strategic decisions at the right time. By taking these steps, luxury names can outlast difficult economic times and come out the other side.”
Find out more about James Sanders here.