Signet CEO Virginia Drosos: I See Bright Skies Ahead In 2024

At the GJEPC Head Office: Signet Jewelers CEO Virginia Drosos (centre) flanked by Signet delegation members Roie Edelman, Jamie Singleton & Joan Hilson, and Vipul Shah, Georg Leifheit and Sabyasachi Ray.

In an exclusive interview with Solitaire during her recent trip to Mumbai for a meet-and-greet with Indian supply chain partners, Signet Jewelers CEO Virginia Drosos recognises the headwinds and global economic environment affecting US diamond jewellery demand and believes that collaboration with partners is crucial to navigating fluctuations and providing customers with high-quality products. She highlights that these headwinds are coming to an end, with an increase in engagements expected over the next three years starting this November. She also touches upon topics such as the segregation of Russian diamonds, the US banking crisis, lab-grown diamonds and more.

Drosos led a delegation that included Jamie Singleton, President, Kay, Zales, Peoples & Chief Marketing Officer; Joan Hilson, Chief Financial Strategy & Services Officer; Roie Edelman, Chief Diamond Officer, R2net,,; and Georg Leifheit, Vice President Global Strategic Sourcing. She and her team were felicitated by Vipul Shah, Chairman, GJEPC; Anoop Mehta, President, BDB; Kirit Bhansali, Vice Chairman, GJEPC; and Sabyasachi Ray, Executive Director, GJEPC.

Signet Jewelers is the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewellery, and is possibly the biggest importer of diamonds and studded jewellery from India. The company operates approximately 2,800 stores under the brands of Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, Banter by Piercing Pagoda, Diamonds Direct, Blue Nile,, Rocksbox, Peoples Jewellers, H.Samuel and Ernest Jones.

Virginia Drosos in conversation with Vipul Shah and Sabyasachi Ray in a closed-door meeting at the GJEPC head office.

Signet has changed its focus to e-commerce. Can you talk about the strategy for navigating through these changes and positioning the company for long-term success?

The first thing I’d like to say is that Signet has not changed its strategy for e-commerce, what we’ve done is change the strategy for digital. Customers today want to shop in the connected commerce kind of way, and covid accelerated that trend. So we know now that 90% of engagement customers start their shopping journey online, to search, to become educated, to learn to see different styles, but more than 80% purchase in-store. We believe that the combination of excellent digital experiences combined with a store footprint that is broad and easily available, like ours, is the winning combination in jewellery.

What do you see as the biggest challenges going forward, and how is Signet going to address them?

I think that there will always be times when macro-economic challenges exist. Covid has caused challenges. I mentioned earlier that we are in a time where people are not getting engaged at the same frequency that they normally do. Because three years ago, people were in lockdown for covid and they didn’t start dating. But as we come to the end of the anniversary, in that three-year period, we’ll begin to see a tailwind of engagements that starts to happen in November, December of 2023. And we’ll carry on for a few years.

All of us will always have to navigate different kinds of macroeconomic or demographic trends like that. But I think the way for Signet and the diamond industry in India to navigate those challenges is to continue to invest, even when times are difficult. So that, as we come out of those times, we’re prepared to gain a competitive advantage. And that’s what Signet has been doing. We will be ready. We’ve been planning for the fact that engagements would be down for three years. And now we’ve been planning for the fact that we’ll have a tailwind. And with our partners, we believe that we’ll be able to capitalise on that time.

What’s the exact focus of your visit to India?

We have very strong relationships with our partners in India. And many people from our team are here on the ground. Many come frequently to visit and we count on them. The purpose of our leadership coming at this time is to say thank you, and to express our appreciation for the partnerships that we have, and to encourage more and more innovation in the supply chain that will help all of us continue to keep the diamond industry strong, and to bring the very best products to our customers at the best prices.

Vipul Shah felicitating Virginia Drosos at the Signet business meet in BDB. Also visible are Joan Hilson and Roie Edelman.

What is the strategy for navigating the issue of Russian diamonds, and how will you balance your growth ambitions with the shortfall that may result from the possible exclusion of Russian diamonds from the global supply chain?

In the markets in which Signet operates, not selling Russian diamonds will help us to grow faster. Because it’s a consumer-driven desire. It’s not a government-driven mandate. We’ve already been working with our partners to create a new way of segregating diamonds. I believe that for the industry here, this will ultimately become a competitive advantage because this is just the beginning of what I believe will be a decade-long move of consumers wanting to understand the origin of their diamonds. So it’s like any change that an industry goes through, we have two choices, we can resist and fall behind, or we can lead and capitalise on that opportunity for our combined success. We choose the second.

Jamie Singleton, Sabyasachi Ray and Roie Edelman pose for the shutterbugs at the Signet business meet in BDB.

Do you think this will inadvertently give a push to lab-grown diamonds?

No, I don’t believe that will, because I think that customers who choose lab-grown diamonds are doing so for a very specific reason.

What we all need to work on together, is to recognise that when customers are interested in the lab-created diamond, they shouldn’t be buying that at a lower price point. They should only be trading up to a larger stone or a higher quality stone, when they buy it. That’s what we do at Signet. The average transaction value of lab-created is higher for us than it is for natural because of how we present that choice to customers.

The industry can help us with that by creating new diamond cuts, by creating new reasons for customers to be interested like sustainable sourcing practices, solar-powered creation, and so on. So branding will be the important move for all of us for the future. We will be looking for partners who can bring that kind of innovation.

Do you think that the recent banking crisis in the US will have an impact on consumer confidence and purchasing diamonds?

I think it already is. Bank failures don’t come in ones; they usually come in multiples, even if it takes a little bit longer. Although I’m not an economist, I think that there will be some tightening of credit to minimise risk at many banks. It’s part of the difficult macroenvironment that we’re in now. But I believe that, slowly, the US and other parts of the world will begin to come through that. And I see bright skies ahead in 2024. It is essential to plan and prepare for the future and to be ready for the anticipated economic recovery. We count on our Indian partners for that.

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