When Jennifer Hudson arrived at the Power of Women awards show wearing a Samsung Galaxy Gear Watch that had been encrusted with diamonds by Brilliance jewelers, she probably gave little thought to the saga behind the sparkle.
For Hudson it was just a watch, but like every piece of jewelry sold by Brilliance, the watch that the “Empire” actress wore that night had a story. It was hand crafted by their own people in their own shop. It was — like everything designed and created by Brilliance — more than a piece of jewelry. It was a labor of love.
A Diamond in a Rough Industry
At first glance, Florida-based Brilliance is just another high-end online jeweler. But a closer look reveals genuine passion and a customer-centric mentality that is rare among online diamond merchants that operate behind the anonymity of a website.
Along with custom-designed jewelry and conflict-free stones, Brilliance works with every customer to provide support, guidance and education throughout the purchasing process. Brilliance counters common industry stereotypes by working to forge bonds with their buyers.
“People think that jewelry stores are not trustworthy,” said Jonathon Ohayon, COO at Brilliance. “We really work with customers to give them the best value and a fully transparent buying process.”
The Journey from B2B to B2C
Although the modern incarnation of Brilliance is just nine years old, the company has been in the jewelry business for three decades. Ohayon and his team started by crafting, creating and selling custom jewelry to jewelry stores, which then sold his pieces to customers at a markup.
The eureka moment came 12 or 13 years ago when the team created a $100,000 dollar bracelet for a congressman. From planning to design to selection to assembly, Brilliance did all of the creative and physical work — only to have the jewelry store sell it as if it were their own.
“The store got all of the credit even though it was our people doing the work on everything from A to Z,” Ohayon said. “I knew we should be doing this directly – that we needed to build a brand, tell people who and how special we are, and do everything directly with our clients.”
Brilliance has been an independent B2C enterprise ever since — but their guiding principles never changed.
A Labor of Love
“We make everything ourselves, right here in the U.S.,” Ohayon said. “We feel strongly about producing our jewelry with quality and love. Who we sell to has changed, but the passion, the pride and what we do is the same as it was 30 years ago.”
Their strategy has led to impressive growth. Although it started as a team consisting of just Ohayon and two others, Brilliance now employs 21 people with a number of additional contractors on permanent retainer.
For Ohayon, Brilliance is his “fourth child.”
He trains every employee personally on every aspect of the job. He attaches emotional — not just monetary — value to each and every item that leaves the shop.
“When we deliver to a customer, we are part of a memorable event, like an engagement or a wedding,” Ohayon said. “It’s always something special, and we are passionate about that. We always go the extra mile for customers.”
Their passion for customer service is revealed in a true story that Ohayon is proud to tell. A customer in New York City needed a specialty ring finished with just three days notice. With barely enough time to make the custom piece in a way that met their high standards, there was simply no way they could have it shipped to the Big Apple on time from their location in Florida.
“I flew to New York City and personally delivered it to him myself,” Ohayon said.
It is not just talk or a turn of phrase; Brilliance really does go the extra mile for their customers, in some cases over a thousand miles.
From Imagination to Reality
In an industry where some of the best-known brands don’t even make their own jewelry, Brilliance is committed to separating themselves from the pack by reimagining the entire shopping experience.
“It’s a different world buying from us than buying from a jewelry store,” Ohayon said. “$5,000 dollars here is the same as spending $10,000 at a store. We connect customers directly to the people who cut the stones — there is no middleman. We are talking about a jewelry store having 30 or 40 stones compared to us having more than 100,000 stones. We have access to every diamond in the world — literally. We bring customers directly to the source.”
For Ohayon, stores like the kind to whom he used to sell back in the old B2B days can never achieve the same level of passion or commitment to the product as those who create and craft it with their own hands.
“When you’re not making it, but only selling it, there’s something lost in the process,” he said. “It’s no longer your product, you are just adding a tag. We care, and we hope our customers care that we care.”
Brilliance operates in a crowded, competitive field. They had the courage to take the leap from creating pieces for sale in jewelry stores to selling directly to customers. They established their brand and carved out a niche in the market, but in the end, it is Jonathon Ohayon’s customer-centric business model that is responsible for the company’s growth and success.