It’s full-tilt party season, and if you’re like many people, you’re already wishing that your jewelry box was better stocked. Depending on your social calendar, you may be attending a dozen parties (or more) and if you want to shine at all of them, it would be really fun to show up sporting new baubles every time.
In the past, this would have been a hopeless dream for most of us. Even raiding the caches of our mothers, sisters, and besties wouldn’t really suffice. But thanks to the sharing economy, the dream is becoming a reality. Yay! If you need more bling in your life, and you’re willing to share with other like-minded people, read on.
At Dandelion Chandelier we’ve written before about how even the most wealthy people are starting to soften to the idea of sharing, not owning. Whether its luxury cars, private jets, super-yachts, vacation villas or diamond watches, more and more of the elite are openly willing to rent, not own.
But what about that most coveted of accessories: fine jewelry? We rummaged around and found the best of what’s out there right now in terms of ways to access a higher grade of diamond without bankrupting yourself. Here’s what we found:
Haute Vault, founded in 2014, was one of the first established businesses in the jewelry-sharing space. It’s a membership-only club, where verification of both personal background and creditworthiness determines who is allowed in (completely understandable, given the value of their inventory). Applicants answer a series of questions online, and site partner Experian processes them within seconds. If you’re approved, you can select from three membership levels:
–Gold members can rent pieces valued up to $10,000 and pay an annual membership fee of $250. They can hold only two items at a time.
–Platinum members can upgrade to pieces valued up to $35,000, for an annual fee of $350; they can rent three items at a time.
–Diamond members get access to the entire collection, with pieces valued up to $150,000. The annual fee is $500, and they are still limited to three pieces at a time.
–All members get a pretty nice array of benefits: 100% of the rental equity is applied to any purchases you make, and you also get 20% off the retail purchase price. The site has a stylist and concierge to help pull your look together, and there’s an interactive community and discussion board. Once you’ve reserved a piece of jewelry for specific dates, it will arrive via FedEx overnight. You can return it the same way (unless you decide to buy it).
We’re impressed with the roster of brands available in “the Vault:” Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Bulgari, Cartier, Harry Winston, Ippolita, IWC, Marco Bicego, Rolex and Sydney Evan, among others. That’s a good list. Plus, watches are available in addition to fine jewelry. You won’t find the very top of the range in any of these brands (the most expensive necklace is about $4,000) – but you’ll be wearing the real thing, and that’s pretty cool.
Adorn was founded in 2009, and was originally targeted at brides and the wedding party. It has since broadened its focus, and its array of pieces available for short-term rental or purchase, to “occasion jewelry.”
–The site’s security procedure is that you are charged 5% of the value of what you rent on your credit card, and that’s refunded once you return the items. They ship via UPS.
–While specific brands available are not disclosed, we found one necklace valued at $70,000, a handful of items in the $25-35,000 range, and most in the $3-10,000 range.
—Rental costs are $95-500 for earrings; $105-270 for necklaces ($4,990-1,900 for a couple of outliers) and $130-360 for bracelets. Unfortunately, watches are not available.
Eleven James offers only watches, but it’s worth a mention here. Founded in 2013, it’s also a members-only service that affords access to some very high-end time pieces tailored to meet your style and budget. The company was originally targeted at men but launched a women’s collection on November 15 of this year. If your application is approved, new members receive a phone call to complete their member profile, choose an “access level” and confirm which watch they’ll receive first. Members must provide a security deposit equal to one month’s membership fee.”
—Enthusiasts get access to brands like Bell & Ross, Cartier and Tudor for $149/month.
—Aficionados can rent brands like Breitling, IWC and Rolex for $299/month.
—Connoisseurs have the choice of brands like Audemars Piguet, Breguet, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Vacheron Constantin for $499/month.
—Virtuosos can access all of the above, plus brands like A. Lange & Sohne, Parmigiani Fleurier, and Patek Philippe for $799/month.
We really like this site and are excited they expanded into women’s watches this year. We want to play, too!
There are a couple of sites we found that didn’t really meet our needs: Rocksbox is all costume jewelry and no watches, and Borrowed Bling’s website needs a major upgrade.
It’s still early days for most of these businesses, and there will inevitably be some shake-outs and some improvements. But the basic idea seems strong. Millennials will love the idea of not having to own anything – and their parents may just appreciate having the chance to “try before you buy” so that they know they’ll love whatever they decide to purchase. Win-win, and an excellent solution for a lot of people. It might also juice the luxury watch category, which is really struggling right now.
The democratization of luxury rolls on . . . Make your wardrobe plans now, before your dream jewels get rented by someone else! We’ll see you at the punch bowl.