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Rent the Runway, but for jewelry. That was the animating idea behind Switch, the company that buys and rents out jewelry for $29 a month.
“Ultimately, jewelry is a very different product from apparel, for rental,” Kadisha Cohn said on the Glossy Podcast.
“It’s a perfect product for rental. You don’t really feel like it’s ever been worn before. We sanitize it, we polish it, we kind of bring that shine and make it feel like it’s new — and oftentimes, it is new,” Kadisha Cohn said.
Switch also authenticates the jewelry in its collection, which includes thousands of styles. (“We have Chanel, Hermès, Dior, real diamonds and gold,” Kadisha Cohn said, also listing Sophie Ratner, Mateo and Do Not Disturb.) Some of Switch’s items are one of a kind, and none are valued under $100. Their average value is about $700, which is basically the cost of being a Switch member for two years.
“In two years, to have an endless rotation of jewelry instead of just purchasing one piece — that, probably, after two years you’d be sick of — is a really good value for our customers,” Kadisha Cohn said.
Switch buys jewelry from the public, for either cash, membership credit or credit to be spent toward purchasing an item outright. “If you fall in love with something, you may want to end up buying that,” Kadisha Cohn said.
Kadisha Cohn talked about what goes into jewelry authentication, what to make of wear and tear, and why her career leap into gems was unexpected.
Here are a few highlights from the conversation that have been lightly edited for clarity.
Diamonds are forever
“We always want to have enough styles, so that whenever anyone comes to us, they’ll find something they like. Jewelry is less susceptible to trends than maybe clothing is. There’s still jewelry from 60 years ago that’s some of the most popular on our site, including some of these Chanel vintage pieces.”
The sharing economy is already here
“We’re lucky that other companies in the space have made a new name for borrowing or for renting. Because they’ve already done a lot of the work to make that a commonplace idea, we’ve had to do less work to convince our members and the community at large that this is something that works and isn’t weird, and that it’s good to rent. I mean, Airbnb lets you stay in other people’s homes, and some of those homes are incredibly beautiful. So if you can be OK with that, then you’re going to be comfortable with sanitized, beautiful, 14-carat gold, 18-carat gold jewelry.”
An easier way to try something glamorous
“We’ve noticed a couple patterns in our customer behavior. One of the really interesting ones is that customers are sometimes trying things out that they may not have the courage to try out with a purchase that they’d make in a store — like something red and huge, a big statement. Switch gives them the opportunity to try something they wouldn’t have tried otherwise, and maybe fall in love with that.”