Renting Treasures

The number of sites that rent jewelry and watch collections is growing. Social media has shined a spotlight on these digital jewelry boxes, where true luxury is experienced


It’s not just dresses, shoes and bags anymore. The newest frontier in designer rentals is hard luxury, that slice of luxury that includes jewelry and watches, with specialized companies that rent highly precious sets or single jewels. Flont confirms the success of this trend. Cormac Kinney launched this American start-up in 2016 and in 2017, the company already enjoyed an increase in capital of five million dollars. Flont’s digital treasure trove boasts jewels by Bulgari, Cartier and Tiffany & Co. as well as dozens of independent designers ready to be discovered. It is rare that the big jewelry houses are directly present on these sites: the majority of the pieces by the most noted brands have been made available by private parties, or, especially in the US, by resellers that try to move the high-range products they have available in their collections. In Italy, the first to offer this service is Jewmia. It was founded by jeweler Marco Matranga and is a virtual showroom for master Italian goldsmiths, with an online store boasting discounted prices. In England, Glitzbox is the runaway success. You can subscribe for fifty pounds a month and rent fine jewelry, while the most popular in Asia is Acquired Time, which specializes in luxury watches and is located in Singapore. What truly pushes these platforms, as happened in the fashion industry with the ‘Rent a Runway’ phenomenon, is the buzz generated on social media networks, such as Instagram and Facebook, but also the Chinese WeChat and RenRen. ‘Jewelry as a service’ is the motto that aligns with the buying habits of Millennials and Generation Z, with an increasingly practical type of luxury that goes beyond the concept of ownership. The rental platforms’ target buyer is young (market research talks about ‘career women’ in their thirties) and the brains behind these services are also young (if you consider the founder of Glitzbox, Tamsin Ivy, is only 26 years old). Finally, in terms of watches, these sites work side by side with specialized sites that sell only pre-owned watches, such as, the British Watchfinder.co.uk, which Richemont just acquired.

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