Without a doubt, CJ Pandya is a very diverse individual. At first glance, his demeanour seems more of a real estate agent. Sharply dressed, charismatic and charming, polished and well-spoken. His professionalism and attention to detail shine through. As the owner of CJ Jewels International LLC, Pandya shares his voyage into the industry.
His route into the jewellery industry was non-traditional, not having been born into the industry or inherited the knowledge of the trade, but after being approached by someone already inside who was seeking his expertise in branding and marketing, his interest began to peak when consulting a client and he liked what he saw.
He saw an opportunity and the gap between creativity and professionalism within the industry. The challenge was to bring what he had learned during his advertising days into the jewellery industry and offer a very professional service, a treatment for the customer.
“I emphasize on the professional aspect because the jewellery business has traditionally been conducted in a very non-professional way,” says Pandya. “99% of the business’ within the industry is family owned and operated. Unfortunately, the way that business was being conducted, according to me, it was unethical, borderline dishonest in many cases.”
The switch from one career path to another was challenging, not having any references or deep connections within the industry, CJ struggled at first but his determination and passion helped fuel his path to stardom.
“I must have made about 40 or 50 phone calls, no one would even entertain me, “ shared Pandya, “The first question that would ask me was not ‘what I could bring to the table?’ or ‘what my expertise is?’, it was ‘Who do you know?’ or ‘Are you related to somebody?’ The minute I told that that ‘I don’t know anybody’, I would get the phone hung up on me.”
A self-admitted perfectionist, CJ spends a great deal of time planning and evaluating the pros and cons of the industry. Determined to dive deeper into the industry and learn as much as he could from all aspects of the trade, he began spending his weekends, shadowing jewellery professionals behind the scene.
“Monday to Friday I would be dressed in a suit and a tie, making sleek presentations, creating ideas for customers in the advertising industry,” said CJ, “On Saturdays and Sundays, I would dress in a production suit and sit down next to the model maker, and I would learn the art of making models, learning the art of making jewellery.”
Admittedly, he called his first pieces created “very bad and very crude” but the joy of being able to create and make something unique was special and encouraging enough for him continue for over a year until an opportunity finally presented itself.
“I learned diamonds and then I started making phone calls again and one of the companies gave me an opportunity and they said ‘We would like you to move to China because that’s the only thing we’ve got open for you’, so I did just that.“
Pandya’s worldly experience is evident in his creations, having studied the trends in other global markets. Seeing and knowing the differences within the various buyers have given CJ Jewels International a unique perspective when launching in North America.
“There are certain cultures that jewellery is a must-have. In Chinese culture, it’s a tradition, they have to buy jewellery. It’s considered to be a positive or lucky thing, so they’re buying lots of it. “
CJ Pandya continues to shares his insights from his time in China, speaking about millennials in China who were born into a lot of money, and have seen the comforts that earlier generations did not see. He believes that the potential in China is humongous.
“With a high disposable income and every woman wants a diamond ring,” says Pandya, “women want their husbands to keep buying them diamond jewellery pieces that they see in ads. A lot of celebrities, social media influencers are big into jewellery so they are promoting diamond jewellery heavily on social media and so women want to buy what they’ve seen.”
With Canadian and American market, Pandya has found that jewellery is very occasion specific, meaning that most of the buyers purchase jewellery when you get engaged or married, or specific occasions such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or gift giving during Christmas.
He adds, “The disposable income is high so the market is one of the biggest markets in the world but it’s not growing at a pace at which the Asian or Spanish markets are growing, at least that what I’ve been seeing with my business. “
The trends in North America are also changing, with what a true engagement ring taking on various forms. CJ Jewels International are launching a collection that is targeted to the American millennial consumer, as well as launching a collection specifically targeted to men buying engagement rings.
The trends are changing along with the business, luckily CJ Jewels have been adaptable from the very beginning. The future of the industry is constantly evolving so CJ and his team take pride in changing how they approach diamond jewellery and sales.