• AR
  • Augmented Reality
  • Jewelry
  • Retail

Why You Should Consider AR Try-on for Jewelry Retail in 2022

Yura Velichko
7 Apr 2022
13 min
Why You Should Consider AR Try-on for Jewelry Retail in 2022

In 2022, the shopping experience is catching up with consumer needs and is more flexible than ever. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping became not only the preferred choice but also the only shopping option for many. Augmented reality (AR) technology allows shoppers to get to know the product better, check it out, or try it on without getting up from the couch. According to the latest data, there will be approximately 1.7 billion users of mobile AR worldwide by 2024. 

According to ThinkMobiles, 63% of customers are sure that AR will improve their shopping experience, and 35% say that they would likely go shopping online more if there was a possibility to virtually try stuff before buying it. Numbers speak louder than words — find more interesting data in our article on why AR jewelry apps are an ideal business tool to attract more potential customers

More and more brands are integrating AR try-on features into their marketing strategy. Now it is clear that retailers must modernize to meet the needs of consumers. In this guide, we’ve gathered together everything you need to know about jewelry retail in 2022. Fasten your seatbelts and let’s start with an overview of how AR is changing the industry right now.

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    How augmented reality is changing the retail industry

    Although people are now more accustomed to buying jewelry online, this was not always the case. A few years ago, choosing jewelry was an extremely intimate process — whether it was an engagement ring, a daughter’s coming-of-age necklace, or an expensive gift for a loved one. The combination of high prices and the importance of being able to see what a piece of jewelry looks like in real life meant that people were hesitant to buy gold bracelets or diamond rings online.

    However, AR technology has revolutionized the sale of jewelry on the Internet. AR has given customers the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the process of trying on jewelry in real-time — as if they were in a store. Read more about how AR jewelry apps create an immersive experience on the customer’s device in our expert article.

    Not only customers can gain from AR online jewelry stores, but jewelry brands can also by integrating AR apps into their marketing strategies:

    • The quality of interaction with consumers improves. AR helps shoppers try on jewelry and make buying decisions faster. Apps with AR features are more likely to convince customers to buy a product. A recent Business Wire article states that 72% of those surveyed said they bought products they didn’t plan on due to the impact of augmented reality. 
    • Higher conversion rates. According to Deloitte Digital, brands offering custom AR experiences were 41% more likely to be viewed by customers, with almost three in four consumers saying they were willing to pay more for a product they can explore with AR.
    • Easier to announce new products. Forget about printing new catalogs every time your brand releases a new jewelry collection. Now you can simply add a virtual 3D AR jewelry catalog so shoppers can try on new models and check prices at any time.
    • Implementation of social shopping. Buying jewelry is a very serious step, during which the client goes through many stages, possibly seeks advice from friends, compares prices, and of course, reads reviews. With AR apps, shoppers can easily share the view of a product with anyone.

    Several big names in the jewelry business have already launched virtual fittings. Diamond Hedge, an app from the independent jewelry marketplace, allows its users to select a diamond from the available options, customize a ring, and try it on virtually. Well-known brands such as Tiffany & Co and Pandora have also experimented with virtual fittings. However, there are some challenges in online jewelry retail.

    Embracing challenges of jewelry AR try-on

    While preparing our post about AR try-on jewelry retail, we discovered that AR apps are well-positioned to take businesses to the next level. However, some scenarios are far from perfect. Let’s take a look at some of the AR features available in jewelry retail and see if they really work.

    Many jewelry retailers have added virtual try-on to their websites, including James Allen, a reputable US jewelry retailer. This feature is advertised as a simple and elegant solution, as can be seen in the video:

    Putting everything in its place is not so easy, and the result is a 2D image of a hand with a ring that can only be viewed from one angle. The lighting on the jewelry does not match the lighting on the hand, so it looks as if the ring is not on the finger. The creators of this solution obviously put a lot of work into it, but the result, unfortunately, is not impressive.

    This example perfectly illustrates the situation with web versions of jewelry fittings. The web version only allows you to view static images, and it is very difficult to impress your customers. 

    We will return to the advantages and disadvantages of web versions later. At this point, it’s important to say that jewelry retailers who are just getting started with AR should first consider building an AR mobile app. We talk more about AR try-on jewelry retailers’ attempts in our recent post.

    We examined a few mobile apps that let shoppers try on rings using AR, but they all lacked key implementation points. Poor object and motion tracking, an unconvincing 3D model, and minor interface flaws prevented developers from realizing the full potential of their applications. 

    Analyzing the market situation and adopting the experience of competitors, Postindustria’s engineers have developed a unique virtual ring fitting app to meet the needs of the most demanding customers. 

    The hand-tracking technique we have used, relying on our research and development, boasts the highest accuracy available on the market. We took advantage of high-resolution smartphone cameras and developed a digital tool, which we will discuss in more detail below.

    Ways of hand-tracking in AR for jewelry retail

    Tech-savvy jewelry retailers should be looking for a trusted partner with experience in developing AR jewelry fitting apps that can ensure their customers get realistic renderings of gemstones and perfect rings. Using modern AR technologies, retailers can improve the online shopping experience, providing excellent sales growth. Let’s look at how AR can be applied to jewelry stores using our ring fitting app as an example.

    Once our team examined the market, our goal was to create a solution that works without markers and uses all modern AR trends:

    • Downscale out video by using a pre-trained model. Firstly, we checked out the GitHub repository owned by the MediaPipe team. They created a TensorFlow Lite model capable of detecting a hand with precise finger positions. By zooming out, we were able to apply this model and it returned a set of points for each hand joint.
    Why You Should Consider AR Try-on for Jewelry Retail in 2022 - photo 1
    • Find finger edges. The next step was to calculate the width of the finger in pixels so that we can fit the rendered ring to it. To get the best performance, we rotated our image to straighten the target finger so that it always points up. You can see the result of this operation in the following GIF. If you are interested in the implementation, we talk about it in more detail in our article dedicated to hand-tracking AR jewelry technologies.
    • Fixing the finger in place using feature recognition. Not everything immediately went as we expected. The coordinates were well-defined, but fluctuated from frame to frame, creating an annoying jitter effect. To correct this and “glue” our ring to the previously discovered position, we settled ton using homography. Adopting one of the popular feature detectors (SIFT, SURF, ORB, BRISK, etc.), we found a set of simple features on the current and previous frames and moved our previously detected points to a new position, getting rid of the jitter effect.
    Why You Should Consider AR Try-on for Jewelry Retail in 2022 - photo 2

    The first results were quite satisfactory, we got more stable placement points for our ring, but it was still only a temporary solution. So, we’ve trained our own hand-tracking model, which has no jitter issues.

    We request users to take a picture of their hand and “try on” a ring from the virtual gallery. The play of light, realized through ray tracing, makes the gems look realistic. In addition, our engineers have developed a function to determine the size of the ring. However, developing the virtual ring sizing technology wasn’t so easy.

    Development of a virtual ring sizing technology

    Before talking about existing methods for virtual sizing, let’s discuss sizing problems in more detail. According to a jewelry market insider, companies that sell jewelry online receive a 15% rate of ring return due to incorrect sizing. But the size of some rings cannot be changed. Every fifth ring sent for resizing needs to be recycled, and adjusting rings with gemstones can damage them. Returns are an issue for jewelry brands with online sales, and brands that offer virtual fittings are no exception.

    A virtual fitting offers a seemingly perfect solution, but jewelry fittings rarely offer a ring finger measurement. At best, customers receive a ring-size conversion table and use a tape measure or ruler. 

    Frankly speaking, this method is inconvenient and outdated. In this case, what can you offer your potential buyer? There are dozens of virtual ring meters available on the Internet that are based on one of the following simple methods.

    • Swiping between two lines on a smartphone screen. This method requests the customer to place their finger on the screen between two lines and adjust them with a scaler until the edges line up with the finger. But this technique has a drawback — it does not take into account that the width of the finger varies from top to bottom. This is a potential path to inaccuracies in ring sizing.
    • Placing a ring on a circle. In this method, the user measures the circumference of a finger with tape and then places a “ring of tape” on a virtual circle on the phone’s screen. The app will then determine the ring size and show you the result.
    Why You Should Consider AR Try-on for Jewelry Retail in 2022 - photo 3
    Of course, this method is not completely perfect. It is unlikely that you can name an acquaintance who carries a roll of tape in their pocket.

    These methods are not ideal. Although they allow you to choose the ring size, they do not take into account the location of the knuckles on the finger and this leaves room for improvement in accuracy. The best alternative is to measure the ring size from a photo of your ring finger taken with a high-resolution smartphone camera.

    Our engineering team experimented with a credit card since most people have at least one in their wallet, and got a promising result — the error does not exceed 0.1 mm. To learn more about this method, feel free to check out our post dedicated to virtual ring try-on sizing

    AR try-on for web vs native apps

    According to a McKinsey report, online jewelry sales will account for 18-21% of global jewelry sales by 2025, up from 13% in 2019, signaling a significant industry shift toward e-commerce. For businesses, this trend translates into finding compelling digital marketing channels that will keep customers focused. However, in the development of a virtual jewelry try-on, not everything goes smoothly when it comes to web versions. 

    Web AR software is already widely used in fashion retail, such as Piaget’s virtual boutique, where luxury jewelry and watches are available. Once you enter the space, you can choose from hundreds of products, visualize them in 3D or view them from different angles. Similar technology can easily be used by brands of clothing, shoes, or furniture. To check more examples, please feel free to explore our article on how COVID-19 is transforming e-commerce

    However, there is still one major barrier to virtual jewelry fitting. There are either no good quality off-the-shelf, open-source solutions available or their capabilities max out at evaluating the size of the hand and spotting knuckles. This leads to several problems with the accessibility of the virtual ring fitting from the browser:

    • Brands losing competitive advantage. Jewelry 3D models, renderings, shaders, and even code for machine learning solutions can be found online and copied. If a web page is loaded into a browser, anyone can copy the information needed to create a similar solution. This promises jewelry brands a loss of competitive advantage. Copying something from a native application is much more difficult since all the information is encrypted in binary code.
    • Unclear scope of development work. Testing requires developing multiple versions of the same trial plugin to ensure cross-browser compatibility. The user’s browser may not be updated, the fitting will work for each browser differently, and access to a camera also remains a problem. At the same time, when working with native applications, developers must provide two versions of the solution — for iOS and for Android.
    • Network connection delays. The web interface often depends on Wi-Fi or mobile Internet networks, which can cause delays in data transfer. So, that’s another reason in favor of a native application that does not require an Internet connection. In addition, rendering capabilities in web browsers are limited.

    Check our recent post, where we explain what is web AR and its challenges in more detail.

    You may think, then, that the AR web interface cannot bring benefits to brands, however, this is not entirely true. For example, through the web interface, you can track brand engagement and audience interest through Google Analytics, and audience targeting also works better.

    Fortunately, there is a solution that can combine online AR and native apps. This in-browser application partially runs from the browser as an incoming application. This could be a solution that takes visitors from a company’s website to an inbound app without having to download anything, thus skipping another pain point.

    Elevate your customer experience with AR

    As you can see, AR is becoming an increasingly popular trend in the jewelry industry. More and more brands need experts to create an augmented reality jewelry app that meets their needs. Only teams with a deep understanding of the product and knowledge of the technical components can create an app that delivers an outstanding experience for your customers.

    Postindustria engineers have mastered the art of recreating a complete showroom on any mobile device. We offer you a full menu of AR development services — from a virtual try-on tool and 3D galleries to entire e-commerce platform development with your ideas in mind. Leave us your contact details by filling out the form above, and we’ll get in touch to discuss bringing your ideas to life.

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