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James Sanders London Diamonds founder on the return of a 90s favourite

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Before starting up London Diamonds, James Sanders was well used to the entrepreneurial mindset.
London Diamonds is a disruptive innovator in the best way possible – a way for customers to buy diamonds at their true value. And, as with most of the best ideas within the luxury market, it was devised to solve a problem.

“My wife and I wanted to upgrade her original engagement ring,” explains Sanders. “But when we spoke to the high profile, very respected brand name we bought it from, they were reluctant to divulge their margins. That’s when it became very clear to me that much of the cost for every successful sale goes towards the sales techniques inherent in luxury branded sales rooms. By doing away with all of that – the champagne, the sales staff, the high-end property – we’ve found a way to work with customers that gets them the very best clarity and quality of diamond and a piece of jewellery made to their personal specifications.”

By creating an online jewellers that creates bespoke, luxury diamond rings, London Diamonds and James Sanders are satisfying the market demand. And by only working with diamond suppliers that are ethical and high quality, James Sanders believes that they’re enhancing one of the most important luxury purchases for customers. London Diamonds is a company with a mission Any active investor in a new kind of business, particularly within a packed sector, will tell you that its USP is vital.

And that’s where London Diamonds excels. As managing director, Sanders is vocal about the fair price, high level of services and close affinity London Diamonds’ designers have with clients’ wishes.
He says: “It may seem like an uphill battle to join an already busy market, but we’ve found a niche that wasn’t being exploited. By ensuring that clients are listened to without pressure sales, and because things like property costs aren’t a problem, we can offer a very human touch on our deals.”

It certainly seems to be working, as James Sanders London-based company is now responsible for the design and sale of 1% of the engagement ring sector in the UK. That’s no mean feat for a newish brand, and according to Sanders, it’s just the start: “We’ve had customers respond in a really positive way to our improvements on the sales process, and this has led to a number of initiatives.

“While I’m very happy that doors have been opened to so many people to the world of luxury diamonds, I wouldn’t be an entrepreneur if I wasn’t planning the future focus of our business. Honestly, I definitely have my sights on the remaining 99% of the UK’s engagement ring sales.”

How to sell and service purchasing decisions at an important life stage

Purchase decisions surrounding engagement rings are among the most significant of the customer’s life. And that means providing the kind of service that doesn’t only focus on the price. For James Sanders, it’s as much about creating an affinity with the customer’s responses and offering support in finding that perfect cut of diamond, or design of ring. He says: “Our designers are involved with this important moment of the person enquiring. We begin with listening to what they want from the purchase and craft our service around that.”
And of course, trends matter in jewellery selling and the design service offered as much as in other sectors.

Tips on the cut and trend of diamonds from James Sanders

“We don’t deal with things like celeb endorsements or trying to court influencers to talk up our business,” says James. “In many ways we let the gems do the talking. But I’m certainly aware of changing trends. The oval cut is our most popular, but I see a renaissance for the princess cut, particularly while retro 90s are in.”

The princess cut has had rather an unfair go of it, with a more limited popularity than others over the last few years. But for many discerning buyers, the changing fortune of a specific shape or cut isn’t the most important part of spending their money. In fact, the princess cut is the second most in demand shape even with the rather unfair reputation of being a bit dated.

How long has the princess cut been around?

“The princess cut shape is defined by brilliant faceting and sharp corners,” explains James Sanders. “It only dates back to around 1960 so while it’s in no way antique, it’s a beautiful cut. Basically it’s a square version of the round brilliant. “Expect it to be either a perfect square or it can be more rectangular with brilliant facets, pointed corners and a large centre that allows a lot of light through. Because it accentuates the rough shape while being cut, it’s a more cost effective buying decision than a round. “We often have clients request a square cut but they’re worried about the pointed corners snagging. An active family member might be concerned about the shape, for example. However, there are loads of bespoke designs you can do with the cut.

“For example, by adding a diamond ring around the centre, the whole look is softened. Or to protect the centre stones a princess cut halo works well. We love this style and hope to make many more of them throughout 2022. It seems likely we will, particularly as the 90s is very much back across many sectors, ranging from fashion to music to decor. I predict the princess cut will be going through a resurgence in popularity over the next couple of years. There are so many ways to modify or design with it to make the ring your own. Modernise or leave retro styled, whichever works best for you would be my advice. Always go with your heart when choosing this kind of jewellery – it will be with you for life.”

Back in the 90s, the trend was for three stone princess cut engagement rings: “We’re always happy to create an old school style or modernise it. For example, our designers might suggest pairing different gems with a centre princess cut stone. There are loads of ways our clients partner with our designers to come up with unique designs.”

Don’t be limited by tradition

One of the reasons for the success of London Diamonds in the UK so far is its art of making clients not feel limited in their choices. “Credit has to go to our designers,” says James Sanders. “They truly act as partners to clients, particularly those who may not know exactly what they want. Lives can be changed by exactly the right engagement ring and we aim to support them all the way to ensure that whatever is purchased is right for them.”Edging up a princess cut can be as simple as flipping it to a kite setting with the points unhooked from being parallel to the band of the ring. This angular version goes beautifully with all kinds of other design choices. Our aim as company is that no one feels inhibited by tradition. Anyone is free to contact us to come with the ideal version of their perfect engagement ring.”

Technology allows better communication with clients
As managing director, James Sanders wants to bring the whole process of designing and buying engagement rings up to date. By using platforms like Instagram, designers aren’t limited by traditional industry sales techniques. Head to London Diamonds Instagram for a look at the range of rings they’ve already made, and for tips on trends, gems and more.

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