(NEW YORK) Fifth generation jewelers (and husband and wife duo) Taylor King and Jono King have pooled their resources to amass a heap of glimmering jewels, yours for the perusing. However, there’s one catch! The gold, silver, and diamond encrusted baubles are available on a rental basis via their online site, Haute Vault. Getting glitzed out with a Chanel timepiece, followed by a pair of Chopard chandelier earrings and even adding on a Judith Ripka cuff will have you ringing in well under retail value. Consider your gala season accessorizing covered!
BY DENA SILVER
How did Haute Vault come about?
Taylor King: When my husband and I were moving into our house about five years ago, I was cleaning out a drawer and I found a notepad that said ‘watch rentals.’ From that statement, I thought this was brilliant idea! And since my husband is a fifth generation jeweler and we are both avid watch collectors, I thought that we should also rent jewelry. That’s how Haute Vault was born!
What were the next steps to bringing the company to fruition?
Jono King: We kind of tabled the idea for a bit during the recession, while I focused heavily on the family jewelry business. In 2010, we sat down and took a week off of work to come up with the business model and figure out a work flow of how we could offer our services to the world.
TK: A lot of that time was spent putting together the site by creating a software that is very complex on the back-end but on the front-end is very seamless and easy.
How does the Haute Vault business model work?
JK: We are a membership-based program, so you sign up and enter some basic information, to validate your identity. Then, we look into your credit and history, and place you into the level of membership you qualify for. There are four levels of membership; Sterling, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. You pay the rental fee for the pieces you select, and then you plug in your card and check out.
How scrupulous do members have to be with your precious cargo?
We allow our members to enjoy our pieces and allow for the normal wear-and-tear; if a small pavé diamond came out of a ring, that’d be fine for us. Anything outside of that though, such as intentional neglect of a piece, would come out of the security deposit. We wanted to make the whole process truly white glove service, without having to make the customer spend too much time on logistics.
How long can members rent jewelry for?
JK: We let all of our members rent by the week and up to one month.
TK: And if you decide that you want to purchase a piece, we will put 100 percent of your rental money towards your purchase.
How are you filling a niche in the luxury industry?
JK: We really view this as a smarter way to approach luxury! A lot of people have a budget and are constrained by that. We allow you to take that $50,000 or $5,000 budget you’d spend annually on a piece of jewelry and allow you to stretch that budget and change your look every week.
How did you first get involved in the jewelry industry?
JK: I graduated from law school, but I always had a very strong passion for watches since I was a little kid. I went to GIA, got my diamond certificate, and mastered the diamond industry. I’ve been going to jewelry shows since I was little; my mom has a true knack for finding incredible designers.
How’d you build up your vault of baubles?
JK: A lot of the brands we work with have viewed Haute Vault as a marketing engineering system for them and as an opportunity to reach out to a different demographic. We also go to all of the different jewelry shows around the world; we go to Italy, Hong Kong, Vegas and New York to shop.
Do you design jewelry as well?
JK: We manufacture a lot of our own private collection, which you can see online under the Haute Vault Private Collection. We are expert jewelers; I am very big on the watch side and Taylor is very big on the jewelry side.
Tell us more about that!
TK: The Haute Vault collection ranges anywhere from $800 up to about $100,000 retail. It includes pieces made in white gold, yellow gold, platinum and we use black diamonds, champagne diamonds and exotic cuts. Part of the private collection is really geared towards bridal and on the website you will see that we have items for very black tie, special events, but also for everyday wear.
Do the boys get to try out Haute Vault as well?
JK: We didn’t really foresee men’s jewelry and cuff links to be such a huge component of our business, but we’re renting tons of cuff links and men’s jewelry!
TK: We are also looking to add things like tie clips and other accessories for men. So we are really aiming to cater to our customers and adapt to their needs.
What is it like working together as a husband and wife duo?
JK: It’s been amazing! We think very similarly and share almost the same brain, so our vision is 100 percent on-point.
TK: Like any couple who does business together, we disagree on some things, but as the business has grown we have also grown as a couple! It has been an amazing journey and there have definitely been little bumps in the road, but getting past them and prevailing has been so amazing for us!