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Diamonds are synonymous with luxury and prestige – and obtaining one of course comes with a hefty price tag.

It’s not a purchase many enter into lightly, so when Gus Hashem announced that he wanted to start an online business selling engagement rings, many said it wouldn’t and couldn’t work.

The Hashem family had been in the jewellery business for all of Gus’s life, and when his father started to wind down the family store and consider retirement in 2006, the seed for Diamond Emporium was planted.

Selling some of his father’s excess stock on eBay led Hashem to research possibilities for an online store, and a number of ecommerce sites operating out of the US inspired him.

Officially taking over the business in 2006, Hashem had big plans for the future of selling jewellery and a rebrand of the family business. It took a further four years for the business to come to fruition, and Hashem says in the beginning he wasn’t sure exactly how far he wanted to take the idea.

“It was difficult for Dad to see the transition because he didn’t really understand what I was trying to do: that I wanted to set up a website and sell diamond engagement rings online. He pretty much wasn’t taking me very seriously. He thought it was just one of those things, like just an idea I’d had, and didn’t think much would come of it,” Hashem says.

Adamant about the online strategy he wanted to adopt, Hashem says his father was instead keen on him setting up a traditional jewellery store. “He encouraged me, saying you know ‘let’s set something up in Westfield or somewhere in the CBD’ but I was always resistant to that idea. But once we did set up a site, and started getting sales through the door, and business started growing, his mindset changed very quickly.”

The first few years saw a number of challenges, and getting the site up and running took longer than what Hashem says it should have.

“I was a bit of a perfectionist and I wanted things done a particular way, and there were a lot of challenges. But I pretty much rebranded and in August 2010 launched the website. We started with a very conservative marketing budget, pretty much just Google adwords, and that was the only form of advertising that we did – but the phone started ringing,” Hashem says.

The name itself, Diamond Emporium, was also new – having previously operated with the family name of ‘Hashem Jewellery’. “I wanted something that was a little bit catchier, easy to remember, and with the word ‘diamond’ in it, I figured would be a highly searchable term and it turned out to be the right strategy,” Hashem says.

The domain name he wanted was already registered to an American-based furniture company, and although at that time the new business had no value, Hashem took on board advice from others and bought the name.

Diamond Emporium works by allowing customers to fully customise their engagement ring or piece of bespoke jewellery. A customer can choose from existing stock and designs, with the option to change colours, the width of the band, and other attributes of the ring.

Hashem says that in purchasing something as precious as a diamond, there’s a lot of trust, and customers need to feel comfortable that they’re dealing with a professional who is established and trustworthy.

“So having the showroom gives clients the opportunity to come in and meet us, discuss their options, view settings and designs. Sometimes people aren’t sure exactly how big a diamond is going to be, what an ‘F-I-1 clarity’ diamond is going to look like, so coming in always helps,” Hashem says.

Once an order is placed, the diamond is ordered from one of Diamond Emporium’s certified overseas suppliers, and a 50% deposit is taken. Upon arrival of the diamond, full payment of the diamond is required, and the ring is handcrafted in the on-site workshop. There is also the option of an exchange or full refund if the customer is dissatisfied.

Three years into the running of the Diamond Emporium, the business has significantly grown and evolved, now operating with eight staff, up from three just twelve months ago. Hashem attributes the growth of the business to believing in his strategy, and hard work.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing though – with a young family, and working 14-15 hour days, the journey has been a labour of love.

“If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, I don’t think you’ll get very far, you won’t succeed and you won’t have longevity in what you’re doing. Always follow your gut feeling, and making a decision is key, irrespective of whether it’s the right or wrong decision – as long are you’re learning from your mistakes,” Hashem says.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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