Jewelry holding Ringo, founded in 1993 in Ekaterinburg is one of the leaders in the Russian jewelry market, having an extensive customer base, a modern integrated manufacturing facility comprising all the cycles of jewelry making, from generating creative concepts and designs to their technological implementation, backed by a wide network of signature boutiques.
The company has a certificate of the Russian Jewelry Trade Club awarded to the "Industry Movement Leader" for high quality and modern design and many diplomas received at large industry and international exhibitions.
The Ringo brand is represented in all major cities of Russia and abroad. It is one of the ten best jewelry brands in Russia, having at its disposal some well recognizable designer-made collections, like the "Russian Princess," "Lotus," "Stars," or "Million."
Nadezhda Yalunina, the holding’s Creative Director answers the questions from Rough&Polished, telling about how her company manages to keep abreast of things, about the brand’s latest collections, urgent problems and plans for the future.
At the last JUNWEX Jewelry Show your collections impressed both exhibitors and visitors - in particular, the organizers highlighted your presentation of the Moon Blossom Necklace worth 30 million rubles.
The Moon Blossom Necklace-and-Collar is a striking achievement of our designer Anna Vaganova, and it was effectively presented by Vera Biryukova, a free callisthenics star. It took one year and a half to make it. The transformer-collar is of unusual shape and has lots of fixed stones, which are able to move and then catch your eye producing special light radiance. It is graced with flowers made of precious stones and diamond dew drops.
Jewelry demand fell by 15-20% this year. But your business seems to be looking well. What kind of measures do you take to weather out the downturn?
Jewelry holding Ringo is operating under the same conditions as the rest of the jewelry community in Russia. Of course, as any other market stakeholders, we are facing financial difficulties. But we have already lived through so many downturns – just take for example the 1990s - that it seems we cannot develop our business under greenhouse conditions. And we have so many vaccinations done, that we have an excellent immunity. To solve the problems, which are arising all the time, we resort to management measures, including cost-cutting. We have become more selective while seeking partners - from suppliers of precious stones and metals to exhibition organizers and stand developers.
Your holding company has its own design studio. How much does this contribute to attract customers?
We do pay special attention to the creative component of our business and jewelry craftsmanship. Our design studio brings together art designers, 3D modelers and jewelry designers, all of them being graduates of the leading educational institutions located in Ekaterinburg and in other parts of Russia. They visit global jewelry forums, they improve their professional level while training in Italy, France and other countries and they monitor the latest jewelry fashion trends.
It is also important that our production facilities involve a full production cycle, so it is possible to trace the quality from beginning to end. We employ more than 300 professional craftsmen, who are using the most modern equipment and processing platform for designing and manufacturing jewelry, including rhodium plating, ruthenium plating, satin finishing, roll printing, sandblasting - not to mention the classic methods, such as filigree or diamond dusting.
What are the important tasks now facing the jewelry business community?
As you know, the jewelry industry in our country is one of a few unsubsidized industries. Even in this difficult recession time, Russian jewelers continue to develop the rich traditions of the Russian jewelry art and achieve international success, winning first prizes at international exhibitions. But despite this partial success, most jewelry companies have a hard time, as many of them are experiencing financial pressure and some even ceased to exist.
Russia-based companies are prevented from entering global markets on full scale due to lack of support from the state. This business has always developed without any government policy. But it is so specific and requires large capital investments (as it is completely tied to raw materials) for a long term to pay back. Meanwhile, gold prices in the market are going up, while diamonds are growing in price even faster - and all the associated purchases are borne by the jewelry manufacturer. That said, it should be noted that the shortest time needed to produce a jewelry piece is at least one month, and we must also keep it in mind that it takes then from six months to a year to sell it. The jeweler’s money is "frozen" for several months. It is clear that the jewelry business cannot be elevated to the rank of a national project, because in general it is interesting to a narrow segment of people. And we produce goods, which are far from being called essentials, for they are luxury. Nevertheless, the jewelry business exists in the countries where it is first of all supported by the state and where it is practiced for a long time - in Italy, Thailand or India. If the Russian jewelry industry will continue to develop on its own account, it will not be easy for our goods to become competitive in the global market.
But what about the export-oriented strategy pursued by the jewelry industry?
The country's leadership has recently become more inclined to dialogue with jewelry industry stakeholders and the recent decisions taken by the government confirm this. Reaching out to export markets is in the first place a new growth point for any company. The search for new markets in the current economic situation allows companies to save and even, if their work is competent, increase their profit.
Do you plan to expand your international clientele?
Our company is in the third year of proactive search for new overseas buyers, while deepening its ties with the existing foreign customers. Outside of Russia, our jewelry can be purchased in Kazakhstan, Estonia and Belarus. Every year we take part in the world's largest jewelry exhibitions in Basel, Hong Kong and Dubai. Last year, our jewelry pieces were shown in Beijing.
Ringo is often using diamonds, despite the downturn. Is it cost-effective, taking into account that many jewelers are in fact switching over to cheaper materials. Is it difficult to buy diamonds nowadays?
Each time, while creating a new jewelry piece or a new collection, Ringo remains true to its motto: "We are creating a new diamond design." Over 23 years, despite the crisis situations in the economy, we turn to experienced gemologists to select high-quality diamonds for us to maintain smooth operation of the holding’s jewelry production.
The Russian system of gem assessment differs from the international system. When some people say that diamonds having higher characteristics are priced cheaper in Moscow than Ringo’s low-end goods, what does it means? It explicitly means that such diamonds were brought here avoiding official channels, by way of shadow market schemes or pure speculation. Meanwhile, only a few companies are engaged in real production, first of all, unaided and, secondly, here in Russia, and you may count their number by the fingers of your hand.
Foreign jewelers generally believe that it is impossible to work using only diamonds, which have high characteristics, but consumers in Russia want the best diamonds - and get them. Since diamonds outside Russia are assessed using different standards, they are also processed differently. Scientists have proved that the ideal diamond cut has 57 facets and only in this case the diamond begins to produce "fire". But how does a foreign craftsman work? Having a gray and slightly transparent one-carat stone on his hands, he knows that if he makes of it a diamond weighing 0.9 carats, he will certainly be paid more money. Therefore, while cutting it he does not comply with the geometric standards to keep the stone mass intact. And our craftsmen work in compliance with all the pertinent technical and geometric standards. Therefore, they get a polished diamond weighing 0.5 carats out of a rough diamond weighing one carat, while the remainder is used to manufacture small-size diamonds or just discarded as waste. Therefore, Russian diamonds are considered to have higher clarity.
What kind of diamonds are you using?
In our products, we use diamonds of high-quality cut (to accept such stones for jewelry production we proceed from the All-Russia State Standards and Technical Requirements). We also resort to certification in case of large-size diamonds, including the GIA certification. In addition to the classic colors and cuts we use fancy cuts, as for example, the Asher-cut diamond in the Faith Ring belonging to the jewelry triad of "Faith. Hope. Love."
Could you share your plans for the future?
We will continue to please our customers with new collections and maintain our jewelry lines appealing to our customers. In addition, we are looking forward to take part in Russian and international exhibitions, presentations and other events. I have always viewed the jewelry business to be the longest and toughest way of earning money, but my idea is that we create jewelry that will remain after us.
Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished