The rising cost of goods has not dulled Modern Gents Trading Co.’s sparkle.
The Costa Mesa-based jeweler has seen a boost in business as consumers opt for its budget-friendly engagement rings and wedding bands in an inflationary economy.
The company’s jewelry—made from diamond simulants—ranges from $50 to $200 apiece.
“Our brand really resonates with the younger generations, because they’re more about experiences like festivals or going to get an $8 coffee,” co-founder Mike Lastrina told the Business Journal.
As of April this year, 51% of consumers prioritized travel, leisure and experiences over other spending, according to a report by payments platform Paysafe Ltd. (NYSE: PSFE).
Though more consumer dollars have been going to the experience economy, Modern Gents remains in growth mode.
The jeweler reports that it has seen more than 60% year-over-year growth over each of the past four years, though it doesn’t disclose revenue.
It’s fulfilled over 830,000 orders since its 2017 founding and it currently does over 30,000 orders a month, company officials said.
Assuming a $100 per item order, such a run rate would place the company’s revenue at over $35 million.
Founders Lastrina and Myran Mahroo reported that the company’s growth this year has already surpassed last year’s, with year-to-date revenue up 73% over 2022.
Mahroo and Lastrina met in an unlikely place: Craigslist.
Lastrina hired Mahroo through the site for help developing an online platform for his business mentorship services.
As they worked together on the project, they realized “we get along well and have very entrepreneurial minds,” Mahroo told the Business Journal.
They bounced ideas for new businesses off each other, from selling gopher repellent sticks to board games inspired by Cards Against Humanity.
Of all the ideas they had, Marhoo and Lastrina’s vision for a men’s accessories store came to life in 2017.
They called it Modern Gents.
Within months, Modern Gents pivoted to wedding and engagement jewelry after Mahroo and Lastrina learned that customers used their rings—their store’s most popular products—as wedding bands.
“The whole idea clicked,” Mahroo said.
“Mike and I had this vision to expand upon that affordable wedding and engagement ring segment that wasn’t really something that was around back then.”
The company’s jewelry is designed and distributed from its 6,000-square-foot facility in Costa Mesa.
Its engagement rings for women currently range from around $80 to $150, while wedding bands go for about $60 to $75.
Modern Gents’ wedding bands for men cost around $50 to $200. The online-only store also offers everyday jewelry, such as earrings to necklaces, priced at around $50 to $65 apiece.
The company touts its low prices and use of “conflict-free” materials to pit itself against legacy jewelers.
Its differences from traditional jewelers have helped the brand appeal to younger generations, who are becoming more socially conscious, Lastrina said.
Modern Gents is one of several upstart jewelers that have emerged from Orange County.
Others include Santa Ana’s Qalo, which makes soft, flexible wedding bands made out of silicone, which are designed “for the active lifestyle.”
The athlete-friendly rings maker’s early backers included local entrepreneur Jordan Palmer, the former NFL QB. Qalo was acquired in 2019 by New York-based e-commerce holding company Win Brands Group on undisclosed terms.
As an affordable, online-only jeweler, Modern Gents’ early years were an uphill battle.
“We had to really communicate that we weren’t a scam because our prices were kind of unheard of,” Mahroo said.
Today, the founders no longer worry about proving the legitimacy of their company as it touts an established online presence on social media and search engine platforms.
“When we started, you wouldn’t find anything if you Googled ‘affordable engagement ring,’” Mahroo said. “Now, if you Google that, we pretty much pop up as No. 1.”
Modern Gents also counts over 200,000 followers on both TikTok and Instagram.
Customers don’t have the opportunity to try Modern Gents’ jewelry before they buy, so the jeweler has “strict standards” for its product photos.
“There’s nothing like going to a physical store and looking at a piece of jewelry,” Mahroo said. “Overcoming that challenge as an online store is very difficult.”
To make up for its lack of physical locations, the company offers a lenient exchange policy. Customers can exchange rings if they end up being the wrong size or are not quite the style they wanted.
The company’s rings are also designed to be long-lasting.
“We use a special rhodium coating, which is essentially a protective barrier that gives our jewelry a little extra lifespan,” Mahroo said, adding the company also offers a lifetime warranty.