An interview with Remco Broekhuis, founder and CEO of DiamondsByMe
What first got you started in jewelry?
My father has always been a jeweler. At age 12 he brought me to work with him and I saw for the first time what goldsmithing was all about. I totally fell in love with what he was doing and ever since then, the only thing I have ever wanted to be is a goldsmith.
Both my parents encouraged me and by age 14 I was making simple jewelry using the tools of the trade my father made available to me. My mother still cherishes a small windmill I made. So yes, from early on, I was interested in becoming a jeweler.
What made you want to start your own business?
After graduation, a retailer asked me if I knew how to make and repair jewelry. I guess I knew enough to quickly learn what I needed to know because I spent the next 2 years working for him on a freelance basis. I loved the work and being self-reliant taught me the harder I worked, the more I could earn. Eventually starting my own company felt like a natural progression. My partners and I were making a lot of jewelry and 5 years later we had 7 goldsmiths on staff.
What influences your design style?
I like to design jewelry that makes my customers feel great. It must be wearable and fit their lifestyle. I see the popularity of vintage taking off, so I’ve been looking through historical fashion magazines for inspiration. I interpret the beautiful designs I find for modern living. It’s always fun going outside what’s commonly expected and create something unique. After 17 years of making jewelry, it still thrills me to see one of our designs come to life.
Tell us about your custom design process
More and more customers are requesting something special, something personalized, something not everybody else is wearing. About 20 percent of what we do now is custom. I love it when a customer calls us later to marvel about the whole experience and to tell us how much their jewelry means to them.
In the past I would get the conversation started and then start sketching the idea on paper. I am seeing it in my own mind, but for the customer it might not be so clear. Digitizing the process has made the customer feel more involved at every step and they seem to really enjoy this. If we change something we can send them a realistic color rendering. This makes everyone feel confident in what they are approving. The next step is to print a quick prototype for try-on. This gives the customer a better understanding of the scale and proportions better than they would on screen.
We have our showroom here in Belgium and although we are an online, we have local customers who still want to sit with us. It’s always great to hear what’s on their mind. I can honestly say, every time I sit with a customer, I learn something new. These opportunities to meet in person helps me to get creative and stay creative.
How has Solidscape helped your business?
A lot of our designs are intricate. Solidscape produces wax models with the sharp edges and clean lines we need. It is so important to maintain that level of detail throughout the entire workflow. Features such as the small spheres in a pearl edging or the filigree in vintage are only possible with a Solidscape 3D printer. The wax models produce raw castings with a smooth surface finish. With a lesser quality casting, you would end up grinding away small design features.
How was business for you in 2021?
We’re still a growing company and fluid enough to change with the times. We were able to weather 2 difficult years and continue building toward the future. We saw our engagement ring and wedding jewelry sales go down. This was expected since most weddings were further postponed. But new customers have been finding us because increasingly more people are shopping online. More than ever, people want to express love and celebrate achievements. So overall, it’s been a stable year for us.
What is your advice on going digital?
I’ve been doing this now almost 17 years. We started our business 7 years ago and it has taken us that long to get to where we are today. We’ve been investing for years in building a website worthy of our brand before we started seeing a profit.
My suggestion to jewelers is if you want to take your business online, you must go for it 100%. It cannot be a side project. Think of it as your store window. It needs to communicate who you are and what makes you unique. Show them why it would be nice to come into your “store”. And for that you need to have a nice window on the internet.
What are your interests outside of jewelry?
I love working with my hands. Right now, I’m building a woodworking shop at home for my furniture making. I work in glass too. I’m always busy creating. 3D printing technology fascinates me too. Consider this, science is using it to go to the moon and we’re using it to create beautiful jewelry.
How do you see your future?
The possibilities are limitless. Our website is now in five languages with two more in the works. Doing business online has the most possibilities for us in so many ways. My goal is to have customers in countries all over the world. We are also looking at doing pop-up stores in some major metropolitan areas. There are so many ways we can go from here.
Diamonds By Me
Remco Broekhuis, founder, CEO