Direct-to-consumer business models are infiltrating just about every markup-riddled industry, fine jewelry included.

Noura Sakkijha, the founder of Mejuri, said being a direct-to-consumer brand is key to her company’s success. She sorts the current jewelry retail landscape into two categories: down-market “costume” jewelry that’s sold on the cheap and easily discarded, and high-end fine jewelry, which consists of traditional brands that tend to market to men buying jewelry for women.

“In the space between the two, there aren’t many options,” said Sakkijha. “Being direct-to-consumer is key so we can be more accessible without affecting our quality, as well as control the brand experience and listen to our customers.”

Sakkijha joined the Glossy Podcast to talk about the broken jewelry industry, the process of building brand trust online, and need for influencers. Edited highlights, below.

The existing jewelry market is fragmented.
Sakkijha said that, beyond the typical players, brand awareness for fine jewelry brands is low. If they’re not buying Cartier, many women don’t even know the brand behind their favorite pieces, because there’s such a clutter of product in department stores and many indie brands populate boutiques.

“Jewelry is highly fragmented, for a $180 billion industry,” she said. “If you ask a woman what her favorite jewelry brand is, she probably won’t be able to tell you.”

Today’s jewelry customers care about transparency.
Mejuri — which targets millennial women in their mid-20s to late-30s — is hoping to win over customers on price points, as well as its ethical practices. Sakkijha said her brand’s customers care about where a piece was made, where its materials were sourced and who a brand is partnering with as much as they care about quality.

“Transparency around our materials cuts down price, since we’re cutting out the middleman,” she said. “Ethical practices are very important. It’s part of strategy to be transparent about who we’re partnering with and how committed they are.”

Influencers help put an online brand into context.
Sakkijha acknowledged that, since the jewelry industry hasn’t changed in a very long time, it’s hard to get customers to adapt to new brands — particularly those they only know online. Mejuri launches new products once a week, thanks to 3D modeling, a much faster clip for a fine jewelry brand. To appeal to new customers, the brand turns to influencers.

“Our main focus area is social media and word of mouth,” said Sakkijha. With its influencer strategy, Mejuri is not only pushing the frequency at which women are shopping fine jewelry, but it’s also turning attention to the women themselves — not the men in their lives — as the purchaser.