Why can't I afford beautiful gold jewelry? That question plagued pals Sophie Kahn (above, left) and Bouchra Ezzahraoui (above, right) one day over brunch. "Sophie was wearing an expensive ring that kept turning her finger green," Bouchra tells The Lookbook, "and I was born in Morocco where gold is not considered luxury but rather a daily staple that is much more democratized in the culture. We did our research and discovered that many fine jewelry brands have very high price points because of the wholesale markups and the lack of transparency in this specific business."
Sophie and Bouchra, then working for Marc Jacobs and Goldman Sachs, respectively, decided it was time to shake up the "unaffordable and so uninspiring" jewelry business for good. And so, AUrate New York was born.
The Everlane of jewelry, AUrate offers stunning yet timeless pieces on a direct-to-consumer model. The aim is to cut out unneccessary price markups, and make high-quality gold jewelry affordable to every woman. And with that, women from all walks of life are able to embrace baubles as part of their everyday and lifelong style.
"You get friendship piercings, graduation rings, a necklace from your grandmother, an engagement ring to celebrate your commitment to your significant other," says Bouchra. "Jewelry can be worn as a second skin, it has a story and can reflect the whole history of your personal style. Fine jewelry more specially lasts for life and that’s something much more powerful than a piece of clothing or shoes."
Adds Sophie, "Jewelry actually lasts through generations. This is what makes it particularly appealing to us — you’re creating your own traditions. And you can show off your style in so many ways. You can layer and combine jewelry just as you can apparel, but then you can sleep in it and keep it on forever. This is also why quality is so important, obviously."
To make things even simpler for busy women who have a million other things to do than shop for jewels, this week AUrate launched Curate, a personal styling service that sends you jewelry based on your taste and budget. You fill out an online survey, set your budget, and the brand sends you up to 5 pieces (all vetted by a human stylist!) free of charge within 7 days. You can try it all on at home, and only keep and pay for what you love. (BTW, for every piece purchased, the brand donates a book to a child in need — so you can feel good about keeping both pairs of earrings.)
Still having trouble picking a piece? Below, Sophie and Bouchra break down the 6 pieces of jewelry every woman should own.
1. A simple stunner
"I love the minimal yet bold look of our gold disc necklace," shares Bouchra. "This piece showcases the beauty of gold as a material and I like it engraved with something special."
2. The every-outfit earrings
"These are just such a winner," raves Sophie. "To give you an idea, one of my friends bought them, and now they ALL have them. They brighten your face and make your look."
3. An initial pendant
Bouchra notes, "I wear my initial in our diamond letter necklace every day and I never take it off — it’s super easy to layer with any other necklace or wear it just by itself."
4. A twist on a classic staple
"Our floating diamond ring is our latest design and I’m obsessed with it," says Sophie. "I think it’s the perfect twist on the classic diamond ring. It’s solid 14-karat gold, and has a great diamond, but it’s placed uniquely and it’s still very affordable for what it is."
5. Timeless diamonds
"Our Diamond circle collection is a typical day to night versatile look. It comes in earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets. You can go to the spa with it!" says Bouchra.
6. A unique conversation piece
Adds Sophie, "I wear this diamond ear cuff every day since it’s the perfect way to dress up your ear if you don’t have a lot of piercings. It’s super comfortable, doesn’t get lost (I know people are often worried about this), and gives that finishing touch to your look. We’re actually designing more of these since they’ve been such a hit ... stay tuned!"
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