Lifestyle Podcast Post

Buying Jewelry with Kat McCoy

George Grombacher December 30, 2022

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Buying Jewelry with Kat McCoy

LifeBlood: We talked about buying jewelry, how consumer behavior has changed over the years, how to get a good and fair deal, the best way to engage in the process, and how to ensure everyone is happy with an engagement ring, with Kat McCoy, Owner of Best Kept Jewelry.

Listen the four key areas to consider when buying an engagement ring!

You can learn more about Kat at, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Kat McCoy

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:15
Well, this is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful cat McCoy cat. Are you ready to do this? Morning, George, how are you? I am doing awesome. Thank you. Cat is the owner of Best Kept jewelry concierge, she’s on a mission to take the stress out of bind fine jewelry for yourself or loved one. Cat. Tell us a little about your personal life more about your work, why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:40
Absolutely. And thank you for having me. I live in Connecticut, just outside New York City. As you mentioned, I’m the owner of best capsular concierge, I’ll be celebrating five years in business this March. And in addition to running the business, I live with my husband and I’ve got a one and a half year old and a three and a half year old daughter.

george grombacher 1:00
Excellent. One and a half and three and a half. Good Sleepers right now. Awesome. All right. Well, congratulations on coming up on five years.

Unknown Speaker 1:11
Exactly, exactly. The my business does change quite a bit. It feels like you know, people’s buying habits and relationship to jewelry has changed a lot. So from a timing perspective, it’s been exciting to see things evolve.

george grombacher 1:24
So that’s it’s interesting, I do not know much about people’s buying habits with jewelry. So how has it changed.

Unknown Speaker 1:33
So I see a very direct correlation with the rise of the importance particularly of Instagram, with people buying fine jewelry, and researching fine jewelry and sort of making that important. I have come to in last few years really specialize in custom engagement rings. And engagement rings are simply a bigger deal now because there is the expectation that for a lot of people, the ring will be will be featured and posted, you know, as you announce your engagement. So I think in the past, when it wasn’t so prevalent the way that you would sort of an answer engagement with pictures. We live in just such a visual time. And so I think Instagram has definitely led to more people, you know, taking the engagement thing extra seriously.

george grombacher 2:26
Yeah, well, that certainly makes no sense in the world. And how interesting to to track that trend. How How, how do we know? Or is it knowable? I’m sure that social media has impacted everything. But is just how the industry has grown? Or is it the industry is relatively the same, but just how we buy it the different places we buy, it has changed or all of it. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 2:53
So I think there has been a huge push towards price transparency when it comes to diamond by just because you can access these databases online that show 1000s and 1000s of diamonds. So from a price comparison standpoint, we’re dealing with a much more savvy consumer. I think people often have their guard up when it comes to buying a piece of fine jewelry feeling like, why is this so expensive, I don’t want to be taken for a ride. And just, as I said, with the internet, as with so many things, there’s been just a huge push towards transparency, and so jewellers have had to compete more on service and design and style. Because, you know, consumers are just so much more savvy and well researched. So I still think that a huge part of the reason my job exists is because people have are wary, they don’t know where to start or who to trust. But I can tell you that there has been just a huge positive shift towards price transparency, really even even in just the last three or four years.

george grombacher 4:00
Yeah, which which, which makes all sense in the world. What jumped into my head was, I sort of was thinking that one of the last industries that is being disrupted is when we go and buy a car and for buying a used car. It’s like everything you just talked about, it’s like I don’t want to get ripped off. I don’t want to get taken for a ride, but I really don’t know. And that’s been shifting and changing because now there’s different services and ways to buy vehicles but fascinating that it’s it’s not essentially the same, but in a lot of ways, pretty similar.

Unknown Speaker 4:32
That is one of the comparisons and analogies I make most frequently. And again, a car dealer can say if you can find someone who can beat my price within 200 miles, go get him and car dealerships to or are now competing on inventory and service and perks and everything else. So I think that’s a really apt comparison.

george grombacher 4:57
And I think that the price is what you pay for Tell us what you get are our jewel our jewel jewelers, our sellers, the transparency and pricing. So it’s the stone, it’s the metals, it’s the design its service, are those, is that sort of segmented out like that? Or how, how is that changing?

Unknown Speaker 5:18
Oh, you’re exactly right. So with something like an engagement ring, the primary, you know, the lion’s share of your budget is going to go towards that center diamond, if you’re doing a sort of a traditional white diamond engagement ring. So oftentimes, you know, every bit of 90% of your overall budget could be going towards that diamond. And then of course, your custom design and custom make the setting around it very often. Or at least that’s the way I make engage rings. So with an engagement ring, you can objectively say, I paid a very fair price or maybe I overpaid with a different type of jewelry like like a thick, heavy gold chain necklace, a lot of the overall price is going to be driven by brand and craftsmanship and prestige. But something like a diamond engagement ring, if you’re sourcing the diamond from a diamond wholesaler, you know, you can absolutely kind of have a good sense of whether or not I paid a very fair price when it comes into something with, you know, a big name designer, you know, the other more sort of fashion pieces, I think it’s a little bit harder to say what is the exact right fair price, because there are kind of factors in play. But with an engagement ring, you know, within five or 10%, you should really know if you’re sort of where you want to be

george grombacher 6:36
the mix tenocytes If I’m interested in a custom piece of jewelry specifically engagement ring that is does for me, it’s exactly the way that I want it that’s going to be priced differently than if I’m buying a in I guess I’m defaulted to clothing or a handbag or a pair of shoes that says pair of it’s Louie, it’s whatever is is there a lot of name brand jewelry, it’s the most ignorant question I’ve probably ever asked. But

Unknown Speaker 7:05
absolutely. So when you think of like the major Fifth Avenue retailers are thinking Tiffany and Karl Harry Winston, RTA, those pieces tend to maintain their value in the resale market much better. So when considering an investment piece, you know, your budget will go further, or you’ll certainly get more bang for your buck by not going for one of the major heritage houses like those. But in terms of long term value. You know, based on the name VanCleave piece or Accardi a piece is really going to maintain its value in a different way than a piece that isn’t signed or doesn’t have any sort of brand and prestige.

george grombacher 7:46
Got it makes a ton of sense. All right. So I as a buyer I probably you know what I don’t know on the continuum. If I’m, you know, an absolute novice, I’m certainly not an expert. So I’m somewhere there in the middle, which is probably where the majority of people fall is that fair?

Unknown Speaker 8:10
Um, you know, that’s so interesting. I think a lot of the clients that I work with, are oftentimes men who are sourcing something very special for their spouse or partner. And so beginning of our relationship, they’ll come in and they’ll say, I think she wears yellow gold. Actually, I know her wedding ring is white gold, or she likes delicate pieces, and then he’ll send me photos and everything she’s wearing is a little bit more bold and chunky. So for me, the process is incredibly consultative. I like to meet you wherever you are. And oftentimes, if you don’t have a lot of information, my favorite thing is to ask you to take me a picture to maybe have you guys as a couple dressed up to go to a wedding, and then dress down just sort of in jeans hanging with friends. And just as visual inputs can really tell me a lot about her overall style, how she likes to wear clothes and jewelry. But I don’t think you have to speak the language to make a really thoughtful purchase. I also don’t think that you have to do hours and hours of research. The role I like to play is, you know, helping you really find a piece that matches the unique style of the person that we’re shopping for. And I really kind of curate the universe of options down to the best three or four for you

george grombacher 9:28
got it, which which makes a ton of sense. And that’s immensely valuable because I do not know the language and I don’t even know where to begin when it comes to research because it’s it’s a lot and I don’t want to make a bad decision. Because it’s an engagement ring or potentially one of the most expensive pieces or things items that that that that we will ever buy. So the stakes are pretty high.

Unknown Speaker 9:52
The stakes are high and I think sometimes people feel bashful that they don’t know some of the terminology or it means that they’re going to be taken advantage of As you can I have some clients to, you know, I say they go down the rabbit hole, it says though they’re pursuing a graduate degree in geology, and then I have other clients who just aren’t that interested and want to know what I think and, and as long as within budget, that’s what we’ll go with. There’s more often than not a very happy medium, but I want everyone to feel like they know what they’re buying, that they’re making an informed decision. But I also don’t think that you need to become a specialist or spend dozens of hours researching, and there is sort of, for Diamond buying and for gemstone buying to me, there’s like a great, you know, five minute, what do I need to know spiel that I can give? That for most of my clients seems to give them enough to be dangerous, but you know, not overwhelm them. So I think a lot about how can I tailor the amount of information based on your experience, but more importantly, based on your interest? Because I think then there are some people who they’re not comfortable unless they feel like they have a firm grasp on the topic. And then other people who are much more about it, does it feel right to me as the speaking to me? Do I like it? So for me, that’s really excited kind of dealing with the spectrums of personalities and kind of buying types.

george grombacher 11:16
Yeah, I appreciate that. So where do people buy? Commonly, if I’m going to go and buy an engagement ring? I’m going to my local jewelry store and going to the shops or whatever? Um, where’s the majority of of jewelry sold? Or the the majority of of engagement rings? Where are they sold? And I know that you mentioned social media and Instagram. But are there traditional places where I can get it directly from somebody? Or there’s a middle person? How, how does that work? Traditionally?

Unknown Speaker 11:58
Yes, so I think traditionally, people would go into a retail store, a local jeweler, who they know and trust and work directly with them. Different parts of the country, people still go into models, like more of like a sales kind of experience, which is still very, very popular. They have tremendously large businesses. What I do is I partner with diamond wholesalers in the diamond district in New York City. And so I have a diamond wholesaler curate a selection of four or five diamonds for us to choose from that best maximize your budget and what you’re looking for. And then we have a jeweler, handmade, a custom setting for you. Oftentimes, if you’re buying from a retail store, they have the settings pre made, so you’ll drop a diamond into a setting that will fit it. We make very kind of bespoke handmade setting. So it’s a little bit of a different process. I believe in 2021, the average spent on an engagement ring was just around $6,000. But there’s such a tremendous range people spend a lot less or you can spend certainly a lot more.

george grombacher 13:03
Yeah, I imagine that the sky is absolutely the limit. So all right, so we need to get the we need to get the rock. So you go to the wholesaler, or I’m sure that there that strikes me that that’s the best way to do it, or the most cost efficient way to do it, but not the easiest.

Unknown Speaker 13:19
So yeah, I think that’s again, like a huge inspiration for me starting the business was how can I provide you access to world class talent and a world class inventory and help you save a little bit of money and feel like you know you’re buying. But if you’re purely interested in price shopping and price comparing, as I said, there are 10s of 1000s if not more of diamonds listed online, I always cautious my clients against buying a diamond that you haven’t seen in person or that someone you trust hasn’t seen in person. Diamonds in and of themselves are optical illusions. And so a diamond could be quote unquote, near perfect on paper. But if it’s not cut properly, the light’s not gonna reflect nicely if there’s sort of an intangible quality when you’re looking at the diamond that the their certificate, even if it’s graded doesn’t always capture and so I I love when clients are able to meet me in New York and see the diamonds in person, but more often than not, we have a zoom appointment and I’m the person in the room physically looking at the stones. And as we prepare for a diamond buying appointment, the wholesaler and I will probably look through anywhere between 20 to 25 stones to find the four best that we think really outperform their certificate and have sort of outsized value. So there’s still very much a human element to it. Not to say that the way a diamond is graded isn’t important because of course it is and that’s a huge driver of price and value and everything else but diamonds are they’re very much a subjective art and and there’s a lot of factors that contribute to their beauty.

george grombacher 15:00
Yeah, yeah, that makes a ton of sense. I can’t even imagine buying a diamond on the internet.

Unknown Speaker 15:07
You know, I mean, either, but it’s becoming more and more popular. And I understand like if you want access, and don’t kind of know where to start, and again, you can see lots and lots of options. But I have clients, you know, probably a couple times a week, who are just in the beginning process of looking for an engagement ring. And they’ll send me a listing of a diamond they found online and the price, I’ll just say that if the price seems too good to be true, it often is. There are sometimes things hiding in the certificate. So you could have a very highly graded diamond for color and clarity, which I’ve usually to the two components people are most familiar with. But it may have very strong fluorescence, which is something that as the novice you may not know to look for another certificate that can really, really sort of torpedo its overall long term value. So the stone may not have ideal proportions, so it might not be cut very well. So listen, there I just be found, without question. But I think, in general, just with all luxury purchases, if the price is too good to be true, you should kind of have your guard up. Yeah,

george grombacher 16:19
for sure. That makes a ton of sense. How funny I imagined it’s like, when I go to the doctor, and I’m telling the doctor all about how I found all this information online. And I’m sure that’s super valuable to the doctor and that he or she loves that. So I’m sure you love when people say, Well, you’re telling me it cost this much cap, but I just found it for 200 bucks. So why can’t we just use that one?

Unknown Speaker 16:41
Yes, the WebMD of my business? That’s exactly right.

george grombacher 16:46
Funny. So walk me through typical a typical engagement, a typical consultation with with with you, what are the things I really ought to be considering? And just what does it look like?

Unknown Speaker 16:59
Absolutely. So we will hop on a quick phone consultation. And I’ll get a sense of timing when you’re hoping to propose where you are in the process. Have you looked at rings together? Have you tried anything on together? I would say that’s another way the engaging process has drastically changed in the last five or 10 years is that more often than not a couple will discuss things ahead of time and the bride to be will have a pretty strong point of view on what she hopes the ring will look like. It’s become you know, in five years in business, I think I’ve done two rings where he had zero input from his bride. So you always have to kind of honor what, what she wants, because ideally, this is something she’ll be wearing everyday for a very long time. So as I said, get a sense of where they are in the process, we’ll talk a little bit about a budget that they feel comfortable with. We’ll talk about how involved he hopes his partner will be in the process or his mother in law or her sister, sometimes there’s another person in the wings who can kind of help. So there’s still an element of surprise, but you feel like the bride’s wishes are being honored. And then we’ll talk a little bit about design. And they’re sort of four key pieces of information I need before we can set up an appointment with a diamond wholesaler. So that would be your overall budget. Her ring size, which can sometimes be challenging to obtain, sometimes we guess, and sometimes she’s able to get measured the shape of the diamond. So we’ll create a plan with four or five oval diamonds or round diamonds or Ashra, cut whatever it is. And last piece, of course is just a budget. So budget, budget, size,

george grombacher 18:44
shape, and style style. Got it? That was something I was curious about. So it’s just in five years, only two people have said nope, I got this one on my own. No reason to talk to her.

Unknown Speaker 19:01
Ness. And it’s such a delicate balance, because I think the element of surprise can be really important and can be really exciting. So there are different ways to make sure, as I said that you’ve honored her wishes or that you’re on the right track. But she doesn’t necessarily need to attend every appointment. And the other side of the coin. You know, it’s much either certain very modern couples, where both parties are involved from beginning to end. And so we’re talking prices, we’re looking at stones together, we’re tweaking designs. And so I think the ominous surprise there can be when the person chooses to propose. But I have all you know, all sorts of involvement. It has become very common.

george grombacher 19:47
Yeah, I think that that’s super cool and and dynamic anytime there’s two human beings, regardless of of what their gender or sex is that are interested in getting married and they’re interested in Buying a ring fascinating, so many different emotions that are in feelings that that go into this purchase. So, super cool. It makes sense of urgency. Makes sense that that you do the work that you do so. Okay, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you and how can they engage?

Unknown Speaker 20:22
Absolutely. So my website is best And probably the best place to find me is on Instagram which is at best kept jewelry.

george grombacher 20:33
Excellent. Well if you enjoyed as much as I did show get your appreciation and share today share with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Best Kept the st and check out all the great information the cat has on there and then go to Instagram and best in that’s best kept jewelry is the handle. Thanks, Ken cap.

Unknown Speaker 20:56
Thank you have a good one, George. Thanks so much.

george grombacher 20:58
And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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