When Raphi Mahgereft, founder and CEO of Allurez Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, graduated in 2010 from Baruch College – one of the ten senior colleges of The City University of New York (CUNY) and whose alumni include entrepreneurs like Ralph Lauren and Sidney Harman– he had one direction in mind for which his Finance and Investments degree had prepared him thoroughly: The New World, as it were, of E-commerce. In just a short time, Allurez has gone from newcomer in the industry, to “one of the fastest growing jewelry brands in the world,” boasts Mahgereft. He has reason to crow. The product customization options, shopping from the comfort of your home, real-time access to jewelry consultants, sales that break the 50%-off barrier, free shipping and the risk-free return policy all make Allurez.com a logical alternative to what Mahgereft calls the “overpriced shopping mall store.”
His company holds steady their A-tier rating from the BBB (Better Business Bureau). They proudly count themselves among the businesses that consistently win a spot on the Top 10 online retailer. Their product has made it to Hollywood. He insists his suppliers exclusively deal in conflict-free diamonds and adhere to the highest standards of ethical inquiry. At the end of 2015, together the folks at Allurez’s NYC headquarters celebrated a three-year growth of 315% which amounted to revenue of US $4.6 million in 2014. Mahgereft and his team have arrived.
Mahgereft’s wish that Allurez be “a household name for those shopping from home for jewelry” and his wish is coming true. In 2014, Allurez ranked among the top-three nationwide online jewelry retailers and its scope has only broadened in the last year. “We see Allurez continuing to grow both in the US as well as internationally. We are getting into new markets,” he explains. While Allurez has built much of its brand awareness through custom engagement rings, wedding bands, and fine fashion jewelry, Mahgereft is seeing more and more demand for trendy jewelry from foreign markets.
A bit of Google-fu will produce glowing reviews for Allurez.com from Down Under, Across the Pond, The Great White North and, of course, The Big Apple.
These new markets, Mahgereft believes, have taken to Allurez’s Made in The USA model and what it represents. “What sets Allurez apart is the fact that our jewelry is designed and made in the USA,” he says. “Our customers are the most important part of our business and the average jewelry shopper is an informed shopper,” Mahgereft stresses. Allurez is an active supporter of the Kimberly Process, “a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments” (www.kimberlyprocess.com). This due diligence has satisfied Allurez’s customers which in turn has incentivized Allurez’s suppliers. “We see our suppliers as partners of Allurez, as they are an instrumental part of our success. I believe we share the same goals and values, which is mainly to satisfy our customers and to make sure we have the highest customer satisfaction rate in the industry.”
Mahgereft sees promoting the value the Allurez brand places on consumer imagination and consensus as a necessity. “I think from inception we valued our customers greatly. But as time went on we have been listening to their feedback more and more, and acting on it much faster than ever before,” he explains. “For example, if a customer has a good idea for a piece of jewelry and we dangle it out there and determine it will be popular, we are able to turn that into a design and a finished piece, and add it to our catalogue in just a few days. The IT we’ve been able to utilize – not to mention the reach of the internet – has helped us grow at a much faster rate than a shopping mall store would ever be able to.”
The lure of the brick and mortar jewelry store is not, however, so easily dismissed by traditional consumers. “There are still a lot of customers that feel more comfortable going to a store and seeing the item in person before purchasing it,” explains Mahgereft. “However, shopping malls usually have a much smaller selection, they do not have customization options, and they are way overpriced. Allurez solves the problem of the customer wanting to see the item before they commit to it by offering free shipping and an easy return policy. This way a customer can buy the item from the comfort of their home, have it shipped to them for free, and try the item on, while having the confidence that they can return the item if they are not satisfied.”
“We try to make the online shopping experience so seamless,” Mahgereft continues, “that customers would be able to place an order and receive an item that surpasses their expectations without even having to contact our customer service. However, if a customer does have a question or concern they can reach our award winning Diamond and Jewelry Consultants via live chat, email, or phone call. Our team will do a great job of making sure the customer is truly satisfied with their entire shopping experience, and making sure they are loyal lifetime customers of Allurez.”
The Allurez Jewelry Expert Customer Service Team can even be reached through what Mahgereft calls “Social Support.” Monday to Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm, Friday from 9 am to 6 pm and Sunday Allurez customers can get help right on Facebook or Twitter.
While Mahgereft vehemently attests that the “online jewelry business is the best it’s ever been,” he is by no means being self-congratulatory nor does he take timing for granted. Getting in the water during the crest of the E-commerce wave was one thing; surfing it has been another. “By allowing our customers to customize almost any item they see on our website it allows us to monitor trends,” he explains. “At Allurez everything we do revolves around customer satisfaction. We get a lot of feedback from our customers about new product development, and about improving the website to make it more user-friendly.” With increasing competition in the E-commerce world of fine jewelry adapting – or customizing – your brand in order to thrive is essential.
Mahgereft is always looking to bring into the mix new ideas and fresh perspectives. Allurez is currently expanding their selection while keeping an eye on innovations in design abilities.
“As a company, we’re always trying to attract new talent, the right talent. We want people who can contribute to our company culture,” Mahgereft explains. “We have the most beautiful and fashionable fine jewelry in the world as well as an award winning customer service team. We have the highest rate of repeat customers in the industry, which has helped our profits increase year after year. Our aim is to build a brand that fosters lifelong clients.”
By David MacDonald