Direct-to-consumer jeweler Aurate is heeding calls from fans by jumping into the love and engagement category.
Following what cofounders Bouchra Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn said were endless requests for ceremonial jewelry, the company has launched “Modern Love” — a line of 20 customizable love and engagement rings as well as a bespoke design service.
“She definitely asked for this. We talk to our customer all of the time — that’s the point of being d-to-c brand, and every time we asked, ‘What should we do?’ it was always, ‘Engagement rings, engagement rings.’ We generally noticed most of them wanted something in diamond and gold that stood out with very clean lines. A less-is-more approach. We will see how it goes and then potentially expand on it,” said Kahn.
Aurate, founded in 2017 and is now funded by more than $15 million in venture capital, is among the original wave of d-to-c jewelers to emerge in recent years. It has carved out a niche in the market by offering pieces higher on the luxury scale than some of its competitors, with a significant average order price. The company’s designs also skew a bit more refined and feminine than other category players, but it has recently seen success with genderless collections — one recently spearheaded by investor and brand partner Kerry Washington.
Admitting that the category stands at a “higher price point than you’d wear every day,” Ezzahraoui said that the line was engineered around speaking to a discerning, understated crowd.
Aurate’s landing page decodes some of the more intimidating myths around the engagement category — reviewing the classic ‘Four C’s’ of diamond grading and how to best make a decision around such a significant purchase.
Ezzahraoui said that, “it’s pretty intimidating and this [tries to] remove what is intimidating about fine jewelry. I think part of it is educating shoppers and how that resonates, it’s about, ‘How do I start, where do I go and what does it mean?’”
She added that, “The first step going into engagement was to educate customers on how to go about it, the carat weight, color — a lot of companies do that but it can be an overload, we wanted to do it in a more approachable way as well as explain the ethical component of it. Our shoppers want to look good and feel good and I think this goes along the same lines.”
Aurate’s love and engagement category is fully made-to-order but breaks down into two categories. There is a bespoke service where shoppers can schedule a consultation with in-house “diamond whisperers,” as a free service to discuss custom ring designs.
Then there is also an assortment of 20 pre-determined ring designs, some featuring three stones or a halo detail, that shoppers can retrofit with their choice of diamond cut and type of metal. Aurate has settled on offering rings in 14-karat or 18-karat yellow or rose gold as well as platinum. All diamonds offered are sized at about one carat and are certified G or H color, but can be found in cushion, oval, princess, brilliant and other cuts which are rated at very good to excellent.
The company is offering shoppers a choice between naturally mined and lab-grown diamonds. Aurate’s website offers its consumers a list of pros and cons behind each choice, allowing shoppers to make their own decision. “Our woman is educated and smart, we wanted her to make up her own mind and not tell her what to do,” Kahn said.
The choice between naturally mined diamonds and lab-grown stones does have a large impact on the rings’ prices, however. Pieces made with lab-grown diamonds range from $3,000 to $5,000 while natural diamond rings are priced from $5,000 to $15,200.
Dependent on popularity, some of the bespoke Aurate designs could eventually make it into the brand’s permanent collection.
“From a design perspective we are keeping very much in line with Aurate’s less-is-more approach but offering strong, bold and striking pieces that make a statement in an understated way,” said Kahn, who oversaw design for the Modern Love collection.
She added that, while the line was created with engagements in mind, it could also readily be used to mark other important occasions in life — a versatility that Aurate has been working to implement in all its new collections. “It’s important that the designs are unique and have a story to tell. It could be for engagement or a completely different occasion like having a child, getting a promotion or breaking up with the wrong guy. It’s about your choice and being empowered,” she said.
Aurate, which recently launched a children’s collection, is next focused on rescaling its physical retail business. It currently operates a store in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood and will open a new location in San Francisco within the first quarter.