2012 December 20
Jewelry Shopping's Latest Digital Destination? Welcome To Fifth Bond
FifthBond.com View Gallery
(NEW YORK) Imagine a jewelry-purchasing experience that doesn’t involve a stint to the Diamond District, an absurd department store markup, throwaway fast-fashion appeal, untangling gems from discount store racks, or elbowing ferociously through a sample sale. Cue Fifth Bond, the six-month-old bling-dispensing endeavor from former Goldman Sachs finance femme Sureena Taparia. The site offers up fine accouterments sans any of the above. Intrigued? The Daily rang Taparia for the full scoop. BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
What is Fifth Bond, exactly?
It’s a luxury fine jewelry brand that I started in June 2012 as an alternative to the overpriced jewelry that’s available today. I have family in the industry so I grew up with an appreciation for jewelry from a young age. I realized there was something so thrilling about wearing a fine piece of jewelry. When you go to a traditional designer that sells a particular piece in a number of different department stores, it’s marked up 20 times before it reaches the customer! I wanted to bypass those channels and create the shortest path to get our designs into customers’ hands. It’s about high quality pieces without the high price tag.
What were you up to before launching?
Prior to this I was in finance. I worked at Goldman Sachs for about five years and then I realized that my heart just wasn’t in finance, so I set out to find my passion for jewelry.
How did you study up on gemstones?
I took a few classes through GIA; in addition, a lot of the learning happened hands-on in the office, working with experts who had been in the field for years.
Did that finance background come in handy while launching Fifth Bond?
The biggest thing I learned at Goldman was more from an operational perspective; the rest, which has been the design part, is creative. But in terms of operational and cost perspective, it was about getting my pieces in the hands of customers.
What’s the competitive space like?
There’s so much out there right now; you don’t know what’s a real website, if the product is real, or if it’s even going to be sent to you! Whether a purchase is $20 or $200, people will always be weary of the fact that they’re spending money on something—and that they’re doing so from a trusted site. I think for me, I had a lot of word of mouth in the beginning, which was really helpful. When you put out a brand, the biggest thing for me was to show people is that it’s real stuff. That made it important to showcase every detail of a piece, from color description to carat weight. Of course, our customer service is exceptional. If people have any questions, we’re here to answer them, and we have a very generous return policy.
Did any sites provide inspiration or a model to work off of?
Three sites I looked at were LaBelle, Ice, and Gemvara—they’ve all been around for years and have done a wonderful job in terms of marketing and branding themselves. I looked to those sites to figure out how to make my stuff different; it was about figuring out what they hadn’t used, and applying that to Fifth Bond.
Where did the name come from?
I was born and raised right outside New York, and while I was in college I studied abroad in London, so these two cities have a lot of meaning to me. Whenever I would come in, I’d roam around Fifth Avenue—I was so enamored by everything there! So much of what’s being sold I’d look at and hope that I could afford it one day. On Bond Street, my reaction would be the same. I wanted people to make that association with high-quality pieces, but be able to actually wear them, thanks to accessible prices.
Do you play favorites between the two shopping stretches?
I am a little biased towards New York City, so I would probably have to say Fifth Avenue.
Can you remember your thought process on launch day?
I was really nervous. You put so much time and energy to create something, and you hope everyone will love it as much as you!
So, what’s your earliest jewelry-related memory?
My graduation, when my dad gave me a blue diamond pendant. It’s something that when I look at it I remember him and that it was a huge accomplishment for me.
Is there a price cap in terms of what you’ll feature on Fifth Bond?
All of our pieces run from $50 to $3,000; I try to cap it at $3,000 because I still want to make it accessible for that daily jewelry everyday woman will be buying.
Do you have any plans to establish a brick and mortar store?
I’d love to have a space in which people can come by, even if it was an extension to our offices, where people could come in to see, touch, and try on any styles.
Would you hope to open on Fifth Avenue or Bond Street, given the choice?
I’d probably prefer New York over London right now! But I think that when you shop on Fifth Avenue, the idea is to buy something super pricey but great quality—given our prices, I think we’d be a good fit for the trendy Soho area.
How do you hope to expand the biz?
We have an office in the Diamond District, but from a growth perspective the biggest thing has been our collaborations. We started working with bloggers about three months ago, we got press because of that, and that helped people hear our name.
Should we expect more blogettes to make cameos in the future?
Collaborations are going to be my biggest focus for the next year. Whether it’s brands, bloggers, or fashion influencers, I’m interested in working with all different types so we can reach all different people. The blogger we are working with right now, Wit & Whimsy's Meghan Donovan, created a collection of her holiday treats that she would give her friends.
What is Fifth Bond’s demographic?
The age group is 25 to 35 years old, in terms of price point and style. With older age groups, there’s often a desire for bigger piece, and a willingness to spend more money.
What is your daily jewelry appetite?
I wear stud earrings—they’re absolutely classic and go with everything. I’m really into layering, so I’ll often be wearing my ‘S’ pendant. I layer it with a longer or shorter necklace for causal days. When I go out, a cocktail ring is my staple!
Latest jewelry obsession, please!
The biggest thing people are loving right now is rose gold, paired with anything, really, and the color looks good on everyone. It has exploded this past year! I think the trend will continue next year.
And what are we least likely to see you clasping on?
I don’t really like garnet; it's just not my color.
How is your day to day different from when you were at Goldman?
It is defiantly not structured anymore! I create tasks for myself now; that’s one of the most challenging aspects.
With the holidays coming up what is the deal with last minute gift buying on Fifth Bond?
We offer free shipping on all of our jewelry, offering 20 percent off as a holiday treat—and if you order by end of day today, we’re guaranteeing that all of your gifts will arrive by December 24th.
Amazing! Do you have any pointers for gifting baubles that people will actually want to wear?
I’d look at their style first—a lot of pieces on Fifth Bond are classic, fine-jewelry pieces. If someone prefers big, bold things, I’d go for a cocktail ring. If they like smaller pieces, I’d go for semi-precious studs.
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