Wanaka diamond jewellery export business seeks up to $2 million capital funds

Richard Prout, left, and Alice Herald, are the co-founders of 1791 Diamonds.

Wanaka jewellery exporter 1791 Diamonds is seeking between $750,000 and $2 million in capital so it can expand its online retail business in the Northern Hemisphere.

The company was founded in the middle of the global financial crisis in 2008 by Lake Hawea tech entrepreneur Richard Prout and his Hawea Flat neighbour Alice Herald, a jewellery designer.

Both are United Kingdom immigrants who have been living and raising their families in the Wanaka area for many years.

Alice Herald of 1791 Diamonds.

Herald’s designs have featured in Vogue magazine and London Fashion Week.

Prout and Herald hope to raise export expansion capital for 1791 Diamonds through crowdfunding this month.

The online retailers have already exported millions of dollars worth of designer engagement rings to Europe, USA and Asia, they said in a media release on Monday.

Richard Prout of 1791 Diamonds.

Prout says the business has developed a sophisticated digital marketing strategy to compete with big players in the United States.

The company has a custom-built advertising system that can reach specific demographics, right down to suburb level and time of day, if required, he said.

This allowed buyers far from home to securely purchase a designer engagement ring with confidence.

Prout says the custom-designed rings sell for a premium in these markets, with individual sales reaching up to $150,000.

Prout developed the mathematically-based advertising models.

“We get extremely consistent returns over a wide demographic, from people who are remotely located due to work as well as the CBD workers age ranging from 20-35.”

The business hopes to raise $750,000 – $2million for 14-30% equity throughout July.

Prout says the capital would be used to increase the digital marketing budget and offshore employ more staff overseas.  Increasing export revenue will help to raise gross profit beyond the current 36%.

“We have refined our advertising strategy to the point that for every dollar we spend through adwords in the United Kingdom, we get back another five dollars in sales revenue within six weeks. The Northern Hemisphere market is critical in our expansion plans as it allows us to sell through two engagement seasons,” he says.

The company has appointed UK and US staff to maintain customer service and the company was now well positioned for further global expansion, Prout said.

One of the biggest challenges was starting up in the middle of the global financial crisis.

Prout said while consumer confidence and spending on luxury items was at a low, this forced the business to up its game.

“We’re on a better growth platform today because of it,” Prout said.

Consumers had “got over” their fear of ecommerce and high ticket items were being purchased in increasing volumes.

The online jewellery market is growing at 25% per annum, he said.

Crowdfunding was the logical move. The campaign ends on August 9.

“In New Zealand there is a lack of venture capital for companies in the $1-$10million range. Crowdfunding has filled a gap for some of our most innovative tech companies.”

Find out more: snowballeffect.co.nz

About Richard Prout:

Director of Kinesis: sold to Price Waterhouse Coopers for NZD $25m

Founder of Smart-Groups, the precursor to today’s social networks, sold to Freeserve/Dixons Retail for USD $100m

Founder of Solution Foundry Ltd, a boutique software company specialising in automated investment and trading software

About Alice Herald

15 years of design, business and jewellery industry experience

Experience with De Beers and Cartier, designs featured in Vogue, exhibited at London Fashion Week, worked for Benney’s, silversmith and goldsmith to The Queen.

Created online collections, established core supplier network.


[“source – stuff.co.nz”]