After almost a decade on the market, Aurate is looking to the next stage of its business.
The direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand is gearing up for its first major retail partnerships this month after securing its series B funding in the first quarter of this year. Terms of the investment were not disclosed; however, Aurate stated it has raised $25 million to date.
Aurate is embarking on two retail partnerships this month with Macy’s and Helzberg Diamonds, creating respective sister brands sold exclusively at the retailers. Audrey by Aurate will launch at Macy’s on Saturday and Laure by Aurate will launch at Helzberg Diamonds on Tuesday.
“We always wanted to democratize real gold. That’s still the mission of the brand,” said Sophie Kahn, chief executive officer, cofounder and jewelry designer at Aurate. “Part of the beauty of Aurate is that it’s for all types of women. Of course, online you can gather a lot [of customers], but at some point there’s going to be a limit. Then the question is the in-person experience. So, you essentially have a couple of options. You can open a bunch of stores, but that takes a lot of capital, or you can partner with these kinds of legendary people in the market that know how to do this, aka, wholesalers and retailers.”
Aurate’s retail partnerships come after the fine jewelry brand experimented with its own foray into retail. The brand previously had several stores in New York and California, but closed them after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“We realized that what we would sell in-store in a month, we sold online in a day,” Kahn said, noting Aurate’s online business has grown 50 percent year-over-year. “The efforts to run the store were almost the same as online, so it just wasn’t worth it from a juice-to-squeeze ratio.”
Kahn stated Aurate may open a flagship down the line, but is currently focused on its retail partnerships.
Aurate’s two sister brands each have their own distinct look, while staying true to the fine jeweler’s signature styles. Kahn explained that Audrey by Aurate offers chunkier jewelry styles for the Macy’s customer, while the Laure by Aurate collection for Helzberg Diamonds offers more traditional pieces, some of which are similar to Aurate’s own dainty styles. The sister collections also continue Aurate’s commitment to sustainability by using recycled gold and ethically sourced gemstones.
Both collections leverage Aurate’s bestselling styles and recreate them to suit each retailer’s customer. Audrey by Aurate will offer 144 styles across rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces with a median price of $500. It will be sold at 167 Macy’s stores and online. Laure by Aurate will offer 111 styles across rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces ranging in price from $100 to $1,300 and be sold at 30 Helzberg Diamonds locations and online.
“It’s definitely a different audience,” Kahn said about who the target audience is for both collections. “For both [retailers] they have an online component, but they’re huge in-store and they are known for that. It’s very much for the woman that wants to buy in-store and can now do that through these wholesalers and hopefully get something new. We don’t think there’s going to be a lot of overlap [with the Aurate customer].”
Kahn stated Aurate plans to use its series B investment in a number of ways, including expanding its team, in marketing campaigns and continuing its retail partnerships. Aurate’s last fundraising round was in 2019, when the brand garnered $13 million in series A funding.