Business Today

Gem of an Idea

twitter-logo Goutam Das        Print Edition: Feb 3, 2013

LOCATION: Bangalore
BUSINESS: Online jewellery store
FOUNDED IN: August 2011
LED BY: Gaurav Singh Kushwaha
COOL QUOTIENT: Provides affordable jewellery with innovative designs over the Net

All that glitters is typically expensive, but it is still possible to make a fashionable purchase for less than Rs 10,000 if you do so at Bluestone, the online jewellery brand of New Age E Commerce Services.

The affordable jewellery it provides sets Bluestone apart from most other jewellery stores, whether brick-and-mortar or online. "We are not selling thick and heavy wedding jewellery," says Gaurav Singh Kushwaha. "We are more into everyday jewellery, which people generally gift one another and which is somewhere between a planned and an impulse purchase."

The company, co-founded by Vidya Nataraj and Kushwaha in August 2011, launched the site seven months later. Since then, the number of transactions has grown every month. About 40 per cent of them are with customers in Tier-II and Tier-III towns, where getting jewellery with modern designs is next to impossible. Nataraj is no longer part of the company.

Kushwaha is not a first-time entrepreneur. In 2006/07, he started, a content site about Indian movies. It did not do well and some assets were sold to Flipkart in 2011. With Bluestone, he appears more confident. "The size of the Indian jewellery market is about $40 billion. It is a scalable category," he says.

But are consumers ready to buy jewellery without seeing the actual item, touching and feeling it? "The brand is way more important than touching and feeling the product," he says. "Lots of people buy an engagement ring because some celebrity wears it. They buy from a catalogue." One of the ways Bluestone is trying to instil confidence in potential customers is by offering to refund the amount paid if the product is returned within 30 days.

Although Bluestone sells jewellery items such as pendants that cost as little as Rs 3,000, the average selling price is around Rs 10,000. If that seems high, given Kushwaha's claim of providing 'affordable' products, it is because of the soaring price of the yellow metal lately - gold earrings worth Rs 10,000 today would have cost Rs 4,000 three years ago.

The company clocked revenues of more than Rs 1 crore in November and expects to close 2012/13 with about Rs 10 crore. It received Rs 20 crore in funding in August 2011 from venture capital firm Accel Partners and Meena Ganesh, CEO and Managing Director of Pearson Education Services. Bluestone is using the funds to set up a manufacturing facility, and to market products.

Ganesh is confident of her investment. She sees a huge demand for good quality but differentiated designs. "A majority of jewellery designs today are old fashioned. Traditionally, jewellery was bought and passed on by mothers to their children. It was not bought to be experienced," she says. "But now, a lot of women want to buy jewellery they like rather than what their mothers passed on."

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