Monday, April 11, 2011
Is Costco the new Cartier? 6.77-carat diamond engagement ring goes on sale at discount retailer for a bargain $1million
It's not the first place that comes to mind when shopping for engagement rings, but warehouse retailer Costco is fast establishing itself as a one-stop shop for brides and grooms.
Weeks after unveiling a line of wedding gowns, the retail giant is now selling a single 6.77-carat diamond solitaire ring for $1million.
But for those balking at the seven-figure sum, it's still a bargain, as the D colour, Internally Flawless diamond has been valued at $1.6million by the International Gemological Institute.
Though it is not the first time the retailer has stocked diamonds, it is the first time it is selling one of such a high value.
The store insists there is a market for the luxury item because Costco is popular with upscale shoppers in search of a bargain.
Costco executive Richard Galanti told WalletPop.com: 'Why not? We have upscale customers who know that we offer value and an unconditional guarantee.'
He added: 'Within the diamond category, we do a substantial business, selling about 100,000 carats of diamonds a year.
'Among the highest priced diamond rings that we've sold each year, those are generally in the $200,000 to $300,000 price range.'
He also noted that in the U.S., the average annual household income of Costco shopper is $95,800, compared to $69,800 for all households - and that over 41per cent of Costco shoppers earn more than $100,000 annually.
He explained that while high-quality diamonds are easily found elsewhere, Costco is 'going to mark them up a lot less.'
A statement on the company's retail website assures potential buyers: 'Our team of Graduate Gemmologists inspects every diamond to ensure it meets the strictest quality standards in the industry in cut, colour, clarity, and craftsmanship.'
Costco, now the largest membership warehouse chain in the U.S., began in 1983 offering discounts in exchange for buying food and other items in bulk.
Today, clothing, home appliances, furniture, electronics and fine wines are among products stocked on store shelves.
Just last month, the retail giant expanded to wedding gowns in a collaboration with bridal designer Kirstie Kelly, who will sell six exclusive dresses at around 40 per cent of their usual retail price.