Carnabys is the brainchild of entrepreneur Geoffrey Black, who has been involved with the diamond import business for more than 10 years. He saw an opportunity to open a retail space where customers could personalize the design settings of diamonds and other stones, and chose vibrant Liberty Village for Carnabys first retail location. The store opened last month in suite 135 of the unique Liberty Market Building, located at 171 East Liberty Street.
Customization is facilitated by Carnabys’ unique proprietary Dream Engine Software — a video screen in the store can be used by visitors to create their desired designs in real-time. Customers are first asked a series of visual questions to determine their aesthetic tastes, which is followed by the program generating design images for consideration.
Designs can then be further personalized — be it settings style, or materials (such as gold/platinum). Choosing a stone is also a part of the process, and the Dream Engine Software is able to locate and price gems from a wide range of sources.
There’s an element of social to the process as well — customers can share their designs via social media to gage feedback from others, making the process particularly attractive to a younger demographic.
The experience is meant to be pressure-free and eclectic, putting the customer in control of their desired purchase. Visitors are encouraged to linger for the full experience, which could include having a cocktail and enjoying some music. The store has been open for several weeks now, and customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Carnabys' gems are 100% conflict free, notes Mr. Black, and all are certified by the Gemological Institute of America. All of Carnabys’ pieces are designed and handmade in Toronto by local craftsmen.
Custom-made jewellery is particularly hot this fall — Meghan Markle, who until recently was living in Toronto and is now engaged to Prince Harry, worked with a jeweller to customize her engagement ring design.
For those seeking ready-made jewellery pieces, Carnabys also offers a selection of about 100 pieces ranging from classic to trendy. Prices are also kept reasonable, ranging in price from $199 to $5,000 — Mr. Black explained that he wants Carnabys to be accessible to a wide range of clients and incomes. Ready-to-wear pieces focus on white, rose and yellow gold that is adorned with delicate and brilliant white diamonds.
Mr. Black, who has extensive ties to the United Kingdom, explained why he chose to open his first store at Toronto’s Liberty Village. He revealed that he had the opportunity to open a store almost anywhere in the world, and that he chose Toronto because it has “come into its own” — the city is growing quickly and is developing its own culture and tastes, and Toronto’s profile continues to be amplified by popular culture, including the music scene.
Liberty Village was chosen because of its character and demographics — the neighbourhood is a mix of restored heritage buildings, and newly-built commercial and residential buildings. Thousands of people work in the area in industries such as tech, and thousands more live in the area, contributing to what is becoming a significant and vibrant neighbourhood. With a young and upwardly mobile population (including some looking to get married), Liberty Village made sense for Carnabys to bring its own tech to the neighbourhood.
When asked if the Carnabys retail concept could be rolled-out to other places, Mr. Black explained that his first priority is to perfect the concept of his Liberty Village store, to ensure that it’s the best that it can be, and best serves clients at large. As consumers continue to demand product customization options, there could be room for further growth and expansion for the Carnabys concept.
*Photos are courtesy of Carnabys.
For more of today's news: Canadian Retail News From Around The Web: December 13, 2017