Diamond: The company promises all of its diamonds are conflict free and ethically sourced. Grace Inez Adams

Santa Monicans in the market for jewelry now have a new option at Santa Monica Place, where ethics and transparency-focused jewelry company Brilliant Earth opened a new showroom last week.

Brilliant Earth, which has a nationwide and online presence, was created in 2005 after founder Beth Gerstein was unsatisfied with the available selection when looking for her own ring.

“She was seeking an engagement ring that really spoke to her personal values and asking a lot of questions about transparency and sourcing practices,” SVP of merchandising and retail expansion Kathryn Money.  “And [she] really felt that there was an opportunity for a more mission focused brand really driven by ethical sourcing.”

All of the diamonds sold by Brilliant Earth are what the company calls “beyond conflict free,” meaning that not only are they sourced in a way that ensures they do not finance wars or human rights abuses, but Money said they also work with their suppliers to minimize environmental degradation and foster safe labor practices.

“We’re a mission driven organization,” Money said. “To be focused on ethical sourcing and utilizing business for positive social change – our mission is to cultivate a more ethical, transparent and sustainable jewelry industry.”

According to a Brilliant Earth spokesperson, whenever the company opens a new showroom they make a donation to a local organization. In Santa Monica, employees chose the social service organization The People Concern.

Money said that they chose Santa Monica as the location for the newest showroom based on customer data and analytics from their online platform.

“We knew that Santa Monica was a place where we have a strong existing and growing customer base…” Money said. “In addition to the data, we look at a lot of qualitative factors that make a market and a neighborhood really compelling for us. So we’ll look at things like  co-tenancy of other like minded brands… we of course, look at the physical environment in the neighborhood and make sure that we feel like it’s in alignment with our premium yet approachable brand.”

Money said the Santa Monica showroom was designed to be a comfortable and inviting place.

“Shopping for jewelry can be an intimidating experience, particularly when you’re shopping for an engagement ring,” she said. “It’s an emotionally weighty purchase, a very expensive and considered purchase. So, when we were designing our showrooms, we really wanted to create a space that feels welcoming, approachable, and relaxing while still delivering that elevated and premium experience.”

The opening is a hopeful sign for the mall after a roller coaster couple of years with some stores closing, others changing concept and recently a handful of new openings. 

Since 2021, Santa Monica Place has lost the Disney Store, Bloomingdale’s and its movie theater. Sonoma Wine Garden became LouLou’s and Supermodel Tyra Banks opened her ModelLand concept.

Officials hope more retail options of any kind will encourage residents to shop local and recent tax data suggests the city is seeing a rebound in its sales tax figures this year with signs consumers are looking for local experiences. 

The city reported a 27 percent increase overall in sales tax between Q1 of 2021 and Q1 of 2022. Those gains were largely due to significant increases in sales tax revenue from the Auto/Transportation and Restaurants/Hotels sectors. These two sectors generate 50% of the City’s sales tax revenue. 

The city also saw an 89% increase in the Restaurants and Hotels sector reflecting a strong comeback for the local hospitality industry.

“The data shows that people are buying local – from purchasing or leasing cars at auto dealers in Santa Monica, to dining at local restaurants, and buying food from Santa Monica grocery stores and neighborhood markets,” said Economic Development Manager Jennifer Taylor. “We are also pleased to welcome back regional and international visitors to our hotels and restaurants. Collectively, these efforts help our local economy move forward and important sales tax revenue is generated and re-invested back into the community. Supporting businesses in Santa Monica is supporting our community.”

The Brilliant Earth new showroom is located on the first floor of Santa Monica Place next to Nordstrom and is open from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. everyday except Sunday when it closes at 7 p.m. The jewelry can also be viewed and ordered online through the company’s website, which also has more information about their collection and sourcing process. For more information visit https://www.brilliantearth.com or call 424-388-5939.

grace@smdp.com

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