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This Silicon Valley jewelry store sells bling for bitcoin

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MENLO PARK, Calif. (CIRCA) - At Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry, the first jewelry store in the world to accept cryptocurrency, bitcoin for bling is a pretty common transaction.

"We are an old-school company in the sense that we’ll sometimes pull a stone out of a ring that was manufactured 160 years ago," company president Jared Silver explained, "but we are located in the heart of Silicon Valley, so we have to embrace the technology, because it’s part of our ethos."

Silver is the son of the company's eponymous founder. After joining the Stephen Silver board in 2014, he led the charge to get the company on board with cryptocurrency that same year, which launched with the opening of its second location: A watch-centric Menlo Park boutique.

"We did some very small, minor things back then, but there was not really a huge momentum until 2017," he said, alluding to the late-year uptick that pushed bitcoin near the $20,000 mark. "At that point, there was a lot of interesting people and clients that had gotten good returns, and they thought this was a good time to start using cryptocurrency."

The digital money has since dipped in value, but that hasn't stopped tech land patrons from tossing their holdings Silver's way.

"Our cryptocurrency transactions have been higher than our credit cards," he assured. And that figure is good for business, because the crytocurrency merchant service he uses, Bitpay, charges as low as one-third the rate of some credit cards.

"We are an old-school company in the sense that we’ll sometimes pull a stone out of a ring that was manufactured 160 years ago, but we are located in the heart of Silicon Valley, so we have to embrace the technology, because it’s part of our ethos."
Jared Silver, Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry president

Though that's not always as cheap as receiving a wire transfer -- which can sometimes be free for Silver's company to receive but take a business day to transmit and cost sometimes nearly $100 for a customer to send -- bitcoin transactions through a smartphone-accessible email invoice are a win for both buyer and seller.

"[Cryptocurrency] basically enables you to have the flexibility of paying with a credit card, but with the benefit for us of, from a cost perspective, accepting a wire transfer," said Silver. "Once we’ve gotten [a customer] set up and approved, it’s easier than paying with anything else."

Bitpay
This is what a cryptocurrency invoice from Stephen Silver looks like. (Circa)

Sounds ideal. So, why is it that so few stores are dealing in bitcoin today?

Silver admits that, though bitcoin may work well for future-thinking jewelry stores, some more innovations with it and other cryptocurrencies still have to come before we see them arrive in most kinds of retail shops.

Website Coinmap.org, which keeps a running list of brick-and-mortar stores around the world found to accept cryptocurrency, shows a doubling of numbers in the last two years, but the current list is still fewer than 14,000.

"You have the time issue, where it takes 15 minutes to confirm a transaction with bitcoin," Silver added. "When I'm used to waiting a day for a wire transfer, it's not a big deal.

"If you're (at) Walmart -- God forbid -- can you imagine waiting in line … or at Costco ... waiting in line 15 minutes for a transaction waiting to get confirmed? No way. No way, right? But that’s why there are other technologies that are evolving."

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