A new flash-sale site for fine jewelry called Ajaline is set to launch in February, “just in time for Valentine’s Day!” its home page announces. Like Gilt Groupe, the site will offer 30 to 70 percent off retail prices, but it will sell only fine jewelry and watches from brands like Buccellati, Lagos, and Temple St. Clair — which means that prices will still be relatively high, ranging from $500 to $50,000. WWD reports that the site’s co-founders, former John Hardy president Meeling Wong and consultant Jim Conte, want “to adapt a model crafted by online retailers such as Gilt Groupe.”
Wong is confident that the site is filling a void in the market for leftover jewelry inventory, explaining that as much as 20 percent of fine jewelry and watches go unsold every year in the U.S. “I’d say, ‘What’s all this sitting here? Why are you producing more goods when you have all these goods sitting here?’” she explained to WWD. While some of this jewelry gets sold at sample sales in large cities, there are lots of people who live in places like Kansas and Louisiana who can’t bop over to the three-day luxury jewelry sale on 37th Street. “There are very sophisticated shoppers in North Dakota who want to access Buccellati and Temple St. Clair,” says Wong.
This may be true, but will these people — or anyone, for that matter — be open to dropping thousands of dollars on the kind of impulse buying that flash-sale sites depend upon? Wong says that she is determined to keep the site focused on high-end brands and not dilute the inventory with more-affordable offerings: “They’re with similar brands … not next to Juicy Couture or Omaha Steaks.” She says it like buying dinner and jewelry all in one go is a bad thing.