Veeral Rathod, who joined Spence Diamonds in September 2018, is now the company’s CEO.
Dallas—Spence Diamonds has named Veeral Rathod its new CEO effective immediately, the diamond retailer announced Tuesday.

Rathod joined the Vancouver-based retailer—which specializes in both lab-grown and mined diamonds—in September 2018 as its chief marketing officer, but the company said it always planned to put him in the top spot.

“Elevating Veeral to CEO is the culmination of the plan we’ve had for him since day one,” said executive chairman Eric Lindberg in a statement.

Jim Schneider, who served as president since the company’s acquisition in 2015, has made his exit after moving to California.

There are no immediate plans to hire a replacement chief marketing officer, but Rathod confirmed to National Jeweler that a marketing team will be built out over the next few months.

He brings to his new role a strong background in consumer retail and luxury goods.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and previously worked in the financial sector, serving as vice president at Greenhill Cogent and as an M&A analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, Technology Group.

“I like to lead from the front and get to know the business from the inside out,” he said of his management style.

Prior to his time at Spence Diamonds, Rathod served as the CEO of J. Hilburn, a men's lifestyle brand, which he co-founded in 2007.

Rathod noted that menswear and the jewelry industry are similar in the sense that both are long overdue to be updated and ripe for innovation.

J. Hilburn offers custom suiting, and everything from shirts and jackets to shoes and neckwear.

Spence Diamonds similarly offers customized and personalized products, made-to-order and delivered in about a week.

Rathod said he wants to reimagine the jewelry retail space through education about lab-grown diamonds, aiming to appeal to younger consumers looking for more value for their money.

“Retail is not a passive, transactional experience,” said Rathod, stressing the importance of educating the consumer.

Spence Diamonds employees go through GIA certification as well as an internal training program, said Rathod, preparing them to explain the differences between natural and lab-created diamonds and answer any questions a customer may ask.

While Rathod said he’s indifferent to whether customers choose a natural or lab-grown diamond, shoppers deserve to make an educated choice between the categories.

About 80 percent of Spence’s in-store customers choose lab-grown over natural diamonds after discussing both options, he said.

The retailer has eight locations in Canada and five in the United States, including stores in Texas, Arizona and California.

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