Integrity by Design - the Game Changers of Fine Jewelry

— Expert Interview

AUrate - the Game Changers of Fine Jewelry
AUrate - the Game Changers of Fine Jewelry

When we heard about two girls from a finance background, turned fine jewelry entrepreneurs with a business model set on revolutionising the way we buy gold, we had to know more…
Re-writing the rule book (& the attainability factor) of every day luxury, these NYC women challenge every traditional notion of consumption and adornment. Their covetable collections feel good, to buy and to wear, for the most unexpected reasons. Curious as to how it all came about and what makes these women tick, we caught up with founders Sophie and Bouchra, digging a little deeper into the story of AUrate….

Start at the beginning….how did you two meet? And how did you un-hatch this unique idea? 
We met during our Masters in Finance at Princeton…20 males and 5 females. We were both so happy to meet somebody likeminded who shared our international background and interest in fashion.  Our business idea was unhatched over brunch at café Gitane. It was summer and under coffee and watermelon juices we discussed wanting to make our mark on the world. While we loved fashion and apparel, specifically in the Contemporary field, we felt that the market was already saturated. Take a walk through Soho and you see it yourself: clothing stores are everywhere. Contemporary fine jewelry, on the other hand, we realized was basically non-existent (i.e. fine jewelry at a middle-market price point), and this is where we saw the gap.   

Essentially, you offer beautiful fine jewellery at a lower price point than most others…how exactly are you able to do that?
In summary, we discovered a gap in the jewelry market (which as customers ourselves, we couldn’t help but notice and be frustrated by). Either cheap pieces that turn your fingers green of overpriced fine jewelry. We wanted to fill this gap and sit in the middle: fine jewelry for a fair price, which can be achieved by cutting out the middleman like department stores. Our goal is educating customers and teaching them to think about the jewelry market in a new way.  Our direct-to-consumer model sells for at least half the price compared to our competitors, even though we offer same quality, or better quality.  

Has it always been jewelry? Has it always been gold? 
Yes – it has always been fine (i.e. gold and silver) jewelry, because of the problem described above. We are trying to democratize gold and empower women to be able to afford it.  

And your diamonds, white and black diamonds appear across many of the pieces…can we feel just as good about buying into those too?
100%. A sustainable and ethical production chain is extremely important to us – we spent a lot of time searching for vendors that met our criteria. We feature diamonds that are sourced from non-conflict regions and work with metals sourced in accordance with the highest standard of social, environmental, and human rights practices. Everything is made here in NYC so that we can keep a close eye on quality. 

For each piece of jewelry sold, AUrate donates a book to a child from an economically disadvantaged background…that’s quite amazing…how did that idea come about?
It is really important to us that our company is not just about beautiful jewelry and business growth. We are convinced that corporate social responsibility is increasingly critical in this world – to feel good about who you are as a person, as a company and to help propel the world forward. So when we started the company it was obvious that we would incorporate a charitable component, and we created our “Book for Your Look” program. We strive to invest in education, donating a school book to an underprivileged child, with every AUrate purchase. Every customer knows: for every piece you buy, you really give a book. It is clear cut, real, tangible giving. 

Why books in particular? 
We both loved to read and did so avidly as kids. Reading allows you to escape reality, learn life lessons, improve your vocabulary, and become more adept at reading of course. It is such a privilege that we always had books around to read  - we hope we are able to give this gift to as many kids as possible via AUrate. 

There’s such a strong ethical philosophy to your brand…but tell us a little more about your design philosophy? What do you seek to imbue each piece with?
We go for a minimal and unique aesthetic. Very modern yet timeless products, where the gold speaks for itself and there is not too much noise or messiness. We are contemporary yet timeless, clean and minimalist, yet strong. We have three lines that cater to the needs of different women / different phases in a woman’s day (statement for the fashion forward and for going out; core for in between and the day-to-night look; understated for the subtler dresser and to wear everyday).

Your aesthetic taps into both a modern bohemia as well as an understated minimalism. Where do you draw inspiration from? And how does this translate into each collection or design?
Women in New York are so inspiring. Also, New York’s fashion and art scenes. This city is full of artistic inspiration, whether that’s from a cool girl walking down the street in the Lower East side, or an exhibition on connectivity at the New Museum. After seeing “Madame Butterfly” together, we stayed up all night editing pieces in our collection, based on the show’s beautiful décor—the mirrors in the ceiling helped us refine the long bar earrings.

Is there an ultimate muse….? Is she real or imagined?
Our muse is the NYC woman.  

Who is the AUrate woman? 
She is smart and independent yet feminine. She’s a natural beauty, but not too perfect, we like imperfections since that’s what makes life interesting. While fashionable, she doesn’t follow trends but sets them herself. She’s sophisticated but has a slight edge to her and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s free-spirited and open minded yet grounded and rational. While she enjoys the finer things in life (music, art, fashion, travelling) she is also acutely aware of her surroundings and has a passion to give back. 

Lastly, in another time or another place…what would each of you be doing if it wasn’t this?
We would be working on another startup. We love being entrepreneurs and trying to set up something from scratch. It’s very scary but also beyond exhilarating and satisfying. 

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