By Michelle Graff
This screenshot of taken Wednesday afternoon shows the website’s customization software at work. Richline now owns the website and plans to integrate the customization software into its own sites and that of retailers that carry its brands.
New York--The Richline Group announced Wednesday that it has acquired Gemvara, the online-only retailer that’s built its business around custom jewelry, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition gives Richline Group control of what is probably the most coveted customization software in the jewelry industry.

“We believe there’s a much bigger digital presence required for the future in the jewelry business,” Richline Chief Marketing Officer Mark Hanna told National Jeweler on Wednesday. “We felt we could build the expertise over time, or we could find the expertise.

“We don’t find that there’s any better innovative online experience in the jewelry industry than what Gemvara’s platform provides for the consumers.”

He said Richline will integrate the Gemvara technology into websites such as those for Chrysalis, the bracelet brand it acquired last year, and Honora, both of which already sell direct to consumers online. This, however, remain a “small business” for Richline, he said, with their retail sales primarily being used to provide data to help retailers.  

The manufacturer and marketer also will allow its retail customers to integrate Gemvara’s customization technology into their websites, beginning with a couple of jewelers later this year and then expanding in 2017. 
“We felt we could build the expertise over time or we could find the expertise. We don’t find that there’s any better innovative online experience in the jewelry industry than what Gemvara’s platform provides for the consumers.”--Mark Hanna, The Richline Group
The e-tailer also will continue to do what it has done since its founding in 2006: sell jewelry direct to consumers online.

Although Gemvara has experimented with pop-up shops in the past, Hanna said it is “not in their plans at all” for it to do so in the future.

Gemvara will maintain its offices in Boston and has retained most of its employees, though CEO Matt Nichols acknowledged in an interview with a Boston technology publication that there were some layoffs as a result of the acquisition.

The company’s top management, President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Blotner and Nichols, will remain with Gemvara as well. Hanna said Richline’s plans are to grow the Gemvara staff from here.

Nichols joined Gemvara in 2011 as chief financial officer after working on the corporate development team at Google and as a principal at Highland Capital Partners, which invested in Gemvara.

He was promoted to CEO in March 2015, succeeding Janet Holian, who became CEO after Gemvara founder Matt Lauzon, who started with the company with co-founder Jason Reuben as Paragon Lake, stepped down.

Blotner did not respond to request for comment on the acquisition Wednesday.

New York-based Richline Group is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the Warren Buffett-led conglomerate that also owns Ben Bridge Jeweler and Helzberg Diamonds.

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