Vanessa Stofenmacher founded the company two years ago to address fine jewelry “basics” such as thin gold rings, diamond stud earrings and solitaire pendants, also manufacturing in-house to cut out markups. Prices range from $45 for gold dot earrings to $700 for a diamond band. In its first two years, sales grew from $180,000 to $750,000 and the brand is on track for $3 million in revenues for 2016. “We are moving away from fast fashion toward more lifelong fashion. We’re an entryway to fine jewelry,” said Stofenmacher.
For the traditionally outsize retail event known as Black Friday, Vrai & Oro, which means “truth and gold,” will offer just one item on its e-commerce site, a solid 14-karat yellow gold and black diamond bar pin for $175. The pin, of which there are 1,000, will be the only item on offer throughout the holiday weekend.
“It’s meant to be an anti-Black Friday rally, to bring awareness to wastefulness by offering something more mindful and meaningful, without sales gimmicks,” said Stofenmacher. It’s also the brand’s first unisex piece, to be worn on shirts or lapels, hopefully to also spark conversations about its origin and the brand’s values of transparency, quality and simplicity.
All Vrai & Oro pieces are made in downtown Los Angeles from solid 14-karat gold, which costs less per ounce than 18-karat or 22-karat gold, though more metal is used than with pieces that are gold-plated or gold-filled. Like Everlane and other brands that embrace transparency, Vrai & Oro plainly states its material and production costs, even its margins, on its site and in e-mails to customers. This month, the brand informed consumers that it was adjusting all its prices due to the fluctuating cost of gold. To keep its margins between 51 and 60 percent, some pieces went up or down in price by as much as $210.
Adding to its conscious consumerism, the brand will also be replacing mined diamonds with lab-created diamonds from Diamond Foundry, the company in which Leonardo DiCaprio is in an investor. “Our customer is 90 percent female and they are more informed than ever about what they are buying. It’s not so much a cost-effective measure, as the prices will probably stay about the same, but about the principle of more sustainable diamonds.”
The company isn’t steering clear of all promotions, though. It will offer free wrapping paper for the holidays — a Satsuki Shibuya watercolor print. And it will likely look to more traditional methods when it comes to launching its first retail store — at the Row DTLA — next April.