Professional Jeweler Archive: Seeing Is Believing

June 2001


Seeing Is Believing

New technology allows women to try on accessories in the virtual world

The thing to understand about women, says Gary Savage, is they don’t care so much about your image or the image of the jewelry in your showcase. What interests them is what the jewelry does for their image.

Which brings us to EZface, a new software application that enables online shoppers to see how cosmetics, eyewear and jewelry will look on their own faces. A woman can send a photograph of herself to EZface’s production center, which maps her features, scans her skin and corrects color tones before sending it back for storage on her computer. Then she can use EZface’s “Virtual Mirror” feature to try out makeup, eyewear, jewelry and other accessories.

“The reason so many (retail dot-coms) have been biting the dust is customers haven’t been able to try on anything online,” says Savage, CEO of EZface. “Now they can.”

Introduced in 1999, the EZface technology has been adopted by several cosmetics companies. Later this year, a large unidentified jewelry retailer with online and bricks-and-mortar operations will begin to use it. Savage says early users have seen a positive impact on sales and lower return rates. “It keeps shoppers on the Web site anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour,” he says. “Longer visits mean shoppers are more likely to buy.”

The process is so easy, he says, that women shopping for cosmetics even try colors they don’t like. Most wouldn’t do that if they were applying a real-world sample to their own faces.

Cosmetics vs. Jewelry

What online cosmetics and jewelry retailers have had in common, he says, is lifeless displays. Most simply show row after row of products. In that respect, they’re not much better than catalogs. “It’s an old story,” says Savage. “Women complain that everything looks nice in the catalog but doesn’t look the same on them.”

Another feature is “Shop With a Friend,” which enables customers to share the shopping experience through shared browsing, chatting, tutoring and simultaneous use of the application. The two can share their “Virtual Mirrors” and, through a soon-to-be-released voice chat, share opinions about how items look on each other. The software also allows retailers to offer ensembles – matching earrings and necklace, for instance – to be tried on as a set. EZface calls them “Hot Looks.”

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– by Mark E. Dixon

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications