U.S. Director of Operations Talks About Taylor and Hart ‘s Presence In The States
Taylor & Hart emerald cut Moi et Toi ring in diamonds and emerald with shank accented with diamond
Around 10 years ago, ‘the alternative engagement ring’ provided the new buzz around bridal jewelry. It took on different meanings from independent designers’ polished rough-cut diamonds, grey diamonds, exclusive diamond cuts like kite and hexagon shapes to beautiful colored gemstone rings. Eventually, renowned brands who wanted to keep up with the trending influence of personalization rather than the status quo and the bigger is better mentality added un-traditional rings to their designs. Today, although these rings are still “alternative” rather than classic, it has become the new norm to want something completely unique to the couple and their relationship.
Bespoke/Custom rings have become the new alternative with many different brands and companies trying to get in on the action and some doing it better and longer than others. Such is the case of Taylor & Hart who I first introduced you to (here). Its multinational team of experts—designers and consultants who have been providing couples with the ring of their dreams since 2013. In our last installment, we met CEO, Nikolay Piriankov, and gained insight into the story behind the company, from its meaningful name, getting into the bespoke arena early on and the company’s plans for the future.
In this installment we speak to Ashley Moy, Head of US operations, to find out more about the American branch of the company and how and why having a home base and showroom is vital to providing couples with the best scenario in which to purchase the ring that is representative of their enduring love.
Before we get into talking about your presence in the U.S. market, let’s talk about the future of bespoke and what it means in our market. Do you see this as the future of engagement rings and that eventually, we won’t have manufactured styles? How long before you see that happening if you do and how does it feel to be ahead of that wave?
“The reality is that jewelry and engagement rings have historically been bespoke. It’s only in the last century or so that we’ve commercialized jewelry and tried to create a market standard with different styles that take on more of an assembly line approach. We find this a ‘customer types’ approach to engagement rings, but while some women do fall into a ‘type’, it’s more detailed and intricate than that. Breaking down that mentality is what we’ve been working on since we started. Not to reinvent the concept of jewelry but to revitalize the idea that our jewelry, particularly our engagement rings and wedding bands, chronicle important parts of our lives. By having the ability to apply modern technology and concepts to an ancient art form, we have a wide framework of how to work with our customers to provide all the assets they need to envision and develop what is perfect for them.”
What differentiates Taylor & Hart from other companies who have similar business models out there?
“We take pride in going above and beyond. We were at the very start of the wave of having bespoke at the core of our business. Other companies were doing one-of-a-kind as an additional service, usually only if someone had a family stone or a specific idea that they wanted to work with. Instead, our focus is to provide transparency every step of the way and create a lasting experience that leaves our customers wanting more. Our overall goal is to influence public opinion about purchasing bridal jewelry and the industry as a whole. We realized that couples who are entering this exciting phase of their life were not getting offered an equally exciting experience by jewelry companies. It was for this reason that our founders entered the industry. They felt they could improve the journey of engagement ring shopping, and that’s been their mission ever since. Our internal slogan is “Love without limits” which we use as a backdrop to everything we do and ensures our team embraces the sentiment, emotion and significance of engagement ring buying.”
Let’s talk about your presence in the U.S. When did the U.S. office open?
Our pilot was launched last year (2019) in midtown. Our showroom was based blocks away from the Diamond District and we would meet our customers in person. The newly launched showroom opened on August 1, 2020 in the Freedom Tower.
Since much of the custom work can be done online and through virtual visits with designers, what does having a U.S. home base provide for clients?
“Having a U.S. base means we can provide a hands-on approach and experience to having customers truly involved in creating their own engagement rings. Although technology is allowing us to convey more and more character and nuance across a screen, we think it’s imperative to offer the customer an in-person experience if they want one. We’re also newer to the U.S. which means it’s important to show our substance and promise as an emerging brand in this country. By having a showroom, we invite our customers to get deeply involved, quell any reservations about online shopping and get to know us!
How does that translate into ensuring producing custom designs that clients will be thrilled about and how does it also create more buzz about the custom work Taylor & Hart does?
“We’re here to redefine the meaning of ‘custom’ for the American market. For us, custom means that we can incorporate anything from a minor change or personalization to a fully bespoke, one-of-a-kind creation. We show customers that we can help them create something that truly represents their partner and their relationships and that there are no limits to our embodiment of love. We work with the ideas that are nestled deep in the hearts of our customers and provide them the tools they need to make those ideas into reality.
What do customers look for the most when coming to Taylor & Hart for a bespoke/custom ring?
“Customers are looking for affirmation. They want to feel confident that what they design is something that they love and wear into Perpetuum. Once we allow people to see what’s achievable, some create truly bespoke pieces that have never been conceptualized, while some want to add subtle twists to classic looks. Our purpose is to offer a platform to these ideas and provide guidance and support to help them feel comfortable and happy with their choices.”
Where do you start with the customer and where do you go from there?
“First, we like to establish a human connection and build trust with our customers. We get to know them and their partner, their plans and lifestyle, etc. Often it’s only one partner planning a proposal so naturally they may be nervous or eager to talk about their ideas. Our best approach is to really listen to them. We ask open-ended questions that encourage them to speak freely and honestly about their expectations and experience so far, especially because it’s good for us to understand how long they’ve been researching engagement rings.”
How is the American customer different from the British customer in your view?
“In general American and British tastes share similar design aspects. In the major cities where we have a presence, customers gravitate towards diamond-centric pieces set in platinum. In the UK, people are more open to colored stones as their main gem, while we in the U.S. love our diamonds. We also tend to appreciate bigger diamonds at an average of 1.20ct+, while it’s unusual for British customers to select more than a 1.00ct center stone.
In this time when we need to wear masks and socially distance, can you describe the process of a consultation in your Freedom Tower showroom.
A visit to the Freedom Tower was always an experience, as the area is such a meaningful landmark. With a healthy balance of New York natives, commuters, and those visiting from afar, everyone always has an awareness of the tower and what it stands for. For many of our customers, coming to meet us is their first time visiting the location on their own, so naturally, they’re excited. Once seated in our showroom, overlooking the entire city, there’s usually a moment of awe where we all take in the views. And then the consultation begins.
We get to know each other by exchanging plenty of questions about who we are as Taylor & Hart and their expectations and experiences so far in finding the perfect ring. Depending on their level of research, we’re happy to provide our industry knowledge regarding our standards of craftsmanship. From there we’re able to present to customers with physical samples of pieces from our collection so they can see how an actual ring would feel and look, as that’s one of their biggest concerns when shopping and researching online. Once we’ve discussed some of their preferences and ideas, our consultants are able to recommend a few suggestions that bring us closer to finalizing a design and providing a quote.
Since the pandemic and our reopening, we’ve been diligent about health and safety guidelines, ensuring no one comes into the showroom without face protection. We’re always wearing a mask to meet with our customers, have hand sanitizers all around, and clean the jewelry between each consultation. There are fresh pencils and paper for our clients to doodle and rough sketch on. We set it up so that only one customer or couple is in the showroom at a time so that we can remain socially distanced while talking about the rings.
It’s a difficult time to navigate but it’s also a time when more and more couples have decided to get engaged. And that’s what we’re here for. And so we do it in the safest way possible.”